Missions to Mir in 1987:
*Deorbit date for Progress vehicles and Mir modules
**Members of long-term (EO) expeditions are shown in bold
Expedition 2 (EO-2)
The second long-duration expedition to Mir was launched in February 1987 onboard the Soyuz TM-2 spacecraft an included commander Yuri Romanenko and flight engineer Aleksandr Laveikin. The expedition started permanent presence of the Soviet cosmonauts in orbit, which would continue uninterrupted until April 1989.
In March 1987, upon concluding its visit to Mir, the Progress-28 cargo ship deployed a large experimental antenna, while cruising in the vicinity of the station.
Kvant module's docking snafus
In April 1987, the Mir and its crew received the Kvant add-on module, which docked to the station on April 5, 1987, after one previous attempt was aborted due to a glitch in the flight control system onboard the module.
When, after the second attempt, the spacecraft finally berthed to the station, the ground control discovered that the despite mechanical connection of two vehicles, the docking process was not completed. To find out what happened, the cosmonauts onboard the station conducted an adventurous spacewalk to the docking area. Between two loosely connected modules, they found a hygiene bag hanging on the interface of the docking port, preventing two spacecraft to dock correctly. The bag apparently stuck in the docking mechanism during loading of a departing cargo ship. Spacewalking cosmonauts shredded the bag with screwdrivers and a final docking was completed immediately, as they looked on.
The space tug, which delivered Kvant-1 to Mir was then separated from the complex, revealing a rear docking port on the module.
Laveikin's health problems
As Kvant's docking saga was evolving, physicians on the ground, monitoring the health of the crew, found potential problems in Laveikin's cardiovascular system. Program managers saw the problem serious enough to replace Laveikin onboard the station, during the visit of the guest crew to Mir.
Visiting crew: flight engineer replacement
On July 24, 1988, the first visiting crew arrived to Mir onboard the Soyuz TM-3 spacecraft for a week-long stay. The crew included, Syrian guest-cosmonaut and the flight engineer Aleksandr Aleksandrov, who replaced Aleksandr Laveikin in the long-term crew.
On July 30, Laveikin returned to Earth onboard Soyuz TM-2 spacecraft, in the company of commander Viktorenko and Syrian guest-comsonaut Muhammad Faris.
Expedition 3 (EO-3)
As 1987 drew to a close, the third long-duration expedition arrived to Mir onboard Soyuz TM-4 spacecraft. Along with two cosmonauts who were scheduled to stay onboard Mir until second half of 1988, the crew included Anatoly Levchenko, who returned to Earth in the company of Expedition 2 members. As it transpired later, Levchenko, a prospective pilot of the Russian shuttle , was included in the Soyuz crew to give him an experience of the real space flight by the time he would seat at the controls of the reusable orbiter.
Levchenko and his crew mates landed onboard Soyuz TM-3 spacecraft on Dec. 29, 1987.
Next page: Mir operations in 1988
Mir crew practices the deployment of an additional solar panel on the surface of the core module in the Gagarin Training Facility's water tank. Credit: TsPK
Inflatable antennas AS-20N within Model-2 experiment are being deployed onboard Progress-28 cargo ship, upon its departure from the station. Credit: MMK
During 1987, the Kvant module docked to Mir and an additional solar array was deployed on the core module. Credit: RKK Energia