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Mir Cosmonauts Break Tools, Cancel Spacewalk

March 04, 1998| Associated Press

MOSCOW — In an embarrassing failure that capped a tense day, two Mir cosmonauts canceled a spacewalk Tuesday because they ran out of wrenches and into several minor problems aboard the aging space station.

The Russians, Nikolai Budarin and Talgat Musabayev, were unable to open the hatch leading to outer space after breaking all three of their wrenches.

Officials said the spacewalk will probably be rescheduled for April, adding that more wrenches could be sent to Mir on the next cargo ship.

"One of the locks was closed so tightly that . . . Budarin, a physically strong man, broke three [wrenches] and still failed to open the last of 10 locks," Mission Control chief Vladimir Solovyov said.

The cosmonauts also reported other minor troubles.

The cosmonauts, who intended to fix a solar panel damaged in a collision last summer, were told to relax for the rest of the day.

The latest glitch was likely to stir concerns that the ailing Mir is no longer safe to operate. Russia wants to keep it in orbit until a new, international space station becomes operational next year.

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