Washington, 26 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - The head of the U.S. space agency says the decision to send another astronaut to the Mir space station was based on science, and Russian space officials said they expected nothing less.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration administrator Daniel Goldin told reporters yesterday that the safety of Mir was the foremost factor in his decision to allow astronaut David Wolf to join Mir's crew. He said a careful and thorough review of Mir led him to conclude that the station is safe.
In Moscow, Rufina Amosova, a spokeswoman for the Russian space program, said officials were not surprised by Goldin's decision and had expected it because of Mir's excellent record.
Questions have been raised about continued U.S. participation in the Mir program because of a series of mechanical and electrical problems that have plagued the station in recent months. Astronaut Michael Foale has been on board Mir for almost five months. Wolf is to replace him.
Wolf will be aboard the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis which is due to lift off tomorrow for a rendezvous with Mir.