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Russia: Reports That Mir Mission Will Be Canceled Denied

Moscow; 23 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's aerospace center today dismissed reports that conditions for the crew aboard the Mir space station have become life threatening.

Valeri Lyndin, a spokesman for the ground control center near Moscow, said that an early return to Earth for the crew was N-O-T being considered. He said a new joint U.S.-Russian Mir mission was planned for next month.

Earlier today, Mission Control Center spokesman Viktor Blagov said that toxic fumes inside Mir from a leaking coolant had reached the maximum acceptable levels. Blagov said the situation could become dangerous for the Russian and American crew. He said the crew had NOT been able to repair one of three leaks within the cooling system.

But Frank Culbertson, head of NASA's Shuttle-Mir program, said today that he is unaware of any plans to abandon the current mission. Culbertson said he has received N-O information that would indicate the need for an evacuation of Russian cosmonauts Vasily Tsibliev and Alexander Lazutkin and U.S. astronaut Jerry Linenger.