A close call at Mir

Soyuz TM-17The departing crew of Soyuz TM-17, cosmonauts Vasili Tsibliyev and Aleksandr Serebrov, board their capsule and vacate the Russian Mir space station, as planned. Ordered to take photos of the new docking assembly that will someday allow American space shuttles to visit Mir, Tsibliyev brings the Soyuz back to a close distance from the station, but complains of sluggish controls – just before Soyuz collides with the station, bouncing off of its outer hull twice. Mir’s newly arrived crew prepares to evacuate in their own Soyuz, but no critical damage is found to either the station or to Soyuz TM-17, which is allowed to return home. Tsibliyev’s luck aboard Mir will only get worse during his troubled second tour of duty on the station later in the 1990s.