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Russia: Doctors Say Cosmonaut Tsibliyev Cannot Perform Spacewalk

Moscow, 16 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - A Russian official said today doctors have ruled that the commander of the Mir space station, Russian cosmonaut Vasily Tsibliyev, cannot go on a spacewalk to do badly needed repairs.

Igor Goncharov, medical chief at mission control, told reporters a panel of medical experts had taken the decision after discussions all day yesterday.

Mission control head Vladimir Solovyov earlier today said that the U.S. space agency (NASA) had tentatively agreed to let the American astronaut on board Mir, Michael Foale, train to eventually replace Tsibliyev for the actual repairs. Solovyov said that a final decision on Foale's role will be taken after a practice session for the repairs set for Monday. The actual repairs, Solovyov said, have been tentatively scheduled a week from now.

NASA spokesman Don Sickorez said in Houston, Texas, that according to his latest information from NASA officials, Foale's participation in the repair work is still under review.

The repairs, made necessary after Mir collided with a supply craft last month, were originally planned for the end of this week but had to be postponed after Tsibliyev complained of an irregular heartbeat. Doctors indicated the problem may be linked to stress following the collision. A flight control spokeswoman said Tsibliyev is feeling better today after taking medication.