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NASA to Decide on Staffing Mir Today

September 25, 1997| Reuters

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA will announce a decision today on whether astronaut David Wolf will be allowed to fly aboard the troubled Russian space station Mir, the space agency said Wednesday.

NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin has the final say on whether to send a new U.S. crew member to Mir and was to make a decision after reviewing safety reports Wednesday. Goldin is scheduled to make his decision public in a written statement at 9 a.m. EDT and would hold a news conference an hour later, NASA spokeswoman Debra Rahn said.

The announcement would come about 12 hours before the shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to blast off for its rendezvous with Mir.

This year Mir suffered a major fire, an orbital collision and numerous mechanical breakdowns, raising concerns that it is now too dangerous for U.S. astronauts.

The two safety reviews Goldin received Wednesday were likely to give Mir a clean bill of health, which would clear the way for the stationing of a new U.S. astronaut aboard the orbiting outpost, sources familiar with the reports said.

As Goldin studied the independent reviews, Atlantis stood on its launch pad here, poised for blastoff today at 10:34 p.m. EDT. It was due to dock with Mir two days later to pick up astronaut Michael Foale and drop off Wolf.

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