STS -81 (English Space Transportation System) is a mission name for the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis ( OV- 104), NASA. The launch took place on 12 January 1997. It was the 81st Space Shuttle mission, the 18th flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the seventh flight as part of the Shuttle -Mir program, and the fifth coupling of a U.S. space shuttle to the space station Mir.


  • Michael Baker (4th space flight), Commander
  • Brent Jett ( second space flight), Pilot
  • John Grunsfeld ( second space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Marsha Ivins (4th space flight ), Mission Specialist
  • Peter Wisoff ( third space flight), Mission Specialist

Mir Crew Departure

  • Jerry Linenger ( second space flight )


  • Michael Foale for Lineger

Mir Crew Return

  • John E. Blaha ( 5 spacecraft )

(after a flight time of 128 days, returned to Earth 5 hours and 27 minutes; way with STS -79)

Mission Description

In the fifth flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis to the Mir space station were material transport and exchange of a crew member at the center. Scientific research related to the areas of technology, earth science, biology, medicine, micro-gravity and space exploration. Some experiments were in the middle deck of the ferry, others were housed in a Spacehab double module.

The first days were the crew members mainly engaged with the activation of on-board systems of Spacehab, the refueling water canisters for the Mir space station and the preparation of the docking maneuver. Here also, the navigation system has been calibrated and tested a laser rangefinder. Furthermore, a treadmill has been tested, which is later to be used in the International Space Station. It is equipped with special shock absorbers that prevent that transfer the movements of the coaching spaceman too heavily on the space station. The resulting forces could adversely affect scientific experiments. Throughout the flight, the remaining accelerations for this reason were measured (Experiment SAMS ). Due to a computer error, however, this experiment had to be repeated after undocking from the space station on the penultimate day of flying. Also on the linkage studies on the effects of weightlessness and cosmic radiation on plants, different tissues, cell cultures and fungi were made with the Biorack.

After the coupling between Atlantis and Mir were 700 gallons of water, 1806 kg of scientific material and equipment in the station as well as 1181 kg research material, including biomedical samples, a bioprocess unit, an experiment for growing cartilage cells and grown in space wheat plants in the Atlantis transported. In the greenhouse, the station also a new seed was prepared. Using special sensors, the stability of the complex, in particular the coupling adapter and the fortifications of the solar panels, studied in thruster firings. In addition, water samples were studied in different areas of the space station. While John Blaha moved to the Space Shuttle, Jerry Linenger joined the station. Here he was to work until May. For emergencies, the adaption of the astronauts bucket seat has been replaced in the Soyuz spacecraft. After stowing away all the equipment put Atlantis on the eighth day of flying off again and flew around the space station Mir twice at a distance of about 150 meters.

On the last flight day the experiment was repeated with the treadmill. Were measured vibration damping, smooth running of the training device, stability of the flexible surface and the effectiveness of decoupling from the Shuttle. In Spacehab also a transport container for sick people was tested. Such containers should allow in the International Space Station a fast ambulance in an emergency. Finally, a special seat is mounted on the long-term flyer Blaha, minimizes the stresses during the landing phase. The Atlantis landed after ten days before landing on a concrete runway at Cape Canaveral.