This is a previous Atlantis launch. We may not see another one of these until May.
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Courtesy of NASA

Altantis Receives "Go" on Launch
News story originally written on September 25, 1997

Despite Mir's troubled past and very recent computer failures, NASA intends to send astronaut David Wolf to Mir aboard the shuttle Atlantis. Dr. Wolf will replace Dr. Michael Foale who has been onboard the station since May. Atlantis is scheduled for launch on September 25 at 10:34 p.m. EDT from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA has been under intense pressure from Congress, some space observers, and even some people within NASA not to send Wolf to the problem-plagued station. On the CBS Evening News, ex-astronaut Stafford said, "It's a `go' because we reviewed that the systems on board the Mir present no more risks than they have for the previous flights that have gone up there." Stafford led a team that was in charge of assesssing the safety of the Shuttle-Mir mission.

The joint shuttle and Mir 24 crew will transfer hardware, science equipment, and water between the two spacecraft. Much of the science equipment is for Wolf's experiments that will help NASA finalize plans for the International Space Station. NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin said, "We move forward not only because it is safe, but for the important scientific and human experience we can gain only from Mir. As we prepare for the June 1998 launch of the first element of the International Space Station, nothing can beat the hands-on, real-time training aboard Mir."

David Wolf, excited about his stay on Mir, will call Mir his home for the next four months. Stay tuned for more news on the launch and mission status of STS-86.

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