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Russia: Mir Space Station Loses Guidance System, Power

Moscow, 18 August 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The main computer on the Mir space station failed today during a cargo ship docking. The failure caused the spacecraft to lose its orientation to the sun and forced the crew to shut off central power systems.

At this hour, no electrical instruments are working on Mir, which has been plagued recently by numerous serious problems, including a fire and a hole punched in its side in a collision with a cargo ship.

Russian space officials said the latest problem is serious but does not threaten the lives of the two Russian cosmonauts and one American astronaut on board.

Russian Mission Control chief Vladimir Solovyov said flight controllers do not yet know the cause of the failure. The station is spinning and Russian space officials said Mir's orbits will be chaotic until the problem is fixed.

The problems mean a space walk set for Wednesday to begin repairing damage from the June collision will be postponed for two or three days.