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Russia: NASA To Send Replacement Astronaut

Washington, 25 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. space agency NASA says it will go ahead with plans to send a replacement astronaut to the troubled Mir space station early tomorrow as planned. NASA said it will send astronaut David Wolf to the station for a four-month stay.

The space shuttle Atlantis will be blasting off with a seven-member U.S. crew. NASA had said earlier it was reconsidering sending Wolf because of repeated technical problems on Mir.

The space agency had been under pressure not to put another American aboard the aging Mir, which has suffered several breakdowns in recent months.

NASA head Daniel Goldin said in a statement he decided to send Wolf after independent safety reports confirmed the spacecraft met the agency's standards.

Wolf will replace Michael Foale on board the craft, which has been plagued by a series of glitches, including several computer failures. Atlantis is scheduled to dock with Mir on Sunday.

The crew on the Russian space station Mir continued medical experiments today. The crew has been forced recently to cut back on their scientific experiments in order to make repairs to the ailing space station.