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Officials hatch plans to recover Mir

By IRENE BROWN UPI Science Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 26 -- Astronaut Michael Foale and his crewmates aboard the Mir space station are conserving power and putting together a wish-list to replace gear lost during an orbital collision Wednesday. An unmanned resupply ship, stuffed with trash, was being redocked at Mir to test a new rendezvous maneuver when station commander Vasily Tsibliev lost control of the craft.

The 7-ton Progress vehicle smashed into a solar array and a radiator mounted on the Spektr module, causing a hole, believed to be about the size of a dime, in the station's hull. The crew quickly sealed off the damaged module, cutting Mir's available power supplies in half in the process. The Russian space agency is working on plans for spacewalks to reconnect Spektr's three undamaged solar arrays to other station modules to regain lost power. One option would have the spacewalkers re-enter the Spektr laboratory from inside the station to hook up cables and assess the damage to the module's hull. Says Frank Culbertson, the NASA manager for the joint shuttle-Mir program: 'I don't think we're going to regain Spektr anytime soon.' If Spektr's power, however, cannot be salvaged, the U.S. and Russia might call off Mir's mission and return the crew home aboard the Soyuz spacecraft parked at the station. Culbertson says NASA would be reluctant to make a unilateral decision to abandon the flight. Says Culbertson: 'We wouldn't be very good partners if we stopped going there when we said we would. We have a joint program here.' Two more astronauts are training for missions aboard Mir. ---

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Copyright 1997 by United Press International. All rights reserved. ---

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