Soyuz TM-9

Mission highlights

During docking, cosmonauts aboard Mir noticed that three of the eight thermal blankets (layers of foil vacuum-shield insulation) on the descent module
Reentry capsule
A reentry capsule is the portion of a spacecraft which returns to Earth following a space flight. The shape is determined partly by aerodynamics; a capsule is aerodynamically stable falling blunt end first, which allows only the blunt end to require a heat shield for atmospheric reentry. Its shape...

 of the approaching Soyuz-TM 9 spacecraft had come loose from their attachments near the heat shield
Heat shield
A heat shield is designed to shield a substance from absorbing excessive heat from an outside source by either dissipating, reflecting or simply absorbing the heat...

, yet remained attached at their top ends. The main concern was that the capsule might cool down, permitting condensation to form inside and short out its electrical systems. There was also fear that the blankets might block the infrared vertical sensor, which oriented the module for reentry.

Three other areas of concern emerged: that the explosive bolts binding the service module
Service module
A service module is a spacecraft compartment containing a variety of support systems used for spacecraft operations. Usually located in the uninhabited area of the spacecraft, the service module is jettisoned upon the completion of the mission, and usually burns up during atmospheric reentry...

 to the descent module might fail to work after direct exposure to space, that the heat shield might be compromised by direct space exposure, and that an EVA to repair the blankets might cause additional damage. Consideration was given to flying Soyuz TM-10
Soyuz TM-10
-Mission highlights:TM-10 marked the return to earth of Japanese reporter Toyohiro Akiyama.The Soyuz arrived at Mir's aft port with four passengers: quail for cages in Kvant-2. A quail had laid an egg en route to the station. It was returned to Earth, along with 130 kg of experiment results...

 with one cosmonaut aboard as a rescue mission. During an EVA, the cosmonauts folded back two of the three blankets and left the third alone. During reentry, the cosmonauts ejected both the orbital module
Orbital module
The orbital module is a portion of spacecraft used only in orbit. These have developed from the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft.-Soyuz orbit module:The orbit module is a spherical part of Soviet-Russian Soyuz space ship series...

and the service module simultaneously in an effort to minimize the chances that a blanket could snag. Normally the orbital module went first. The descent module suffered no damage as a result of its prolonged exposure to space conditions. Reentry occurred as normal.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.