Mir Too Risky for U.S. Astronauts, Lawmakers Say

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Russia’s aging Mir space station poses an unacceptable risk and NASA should not send any more Americans to the orbiting laboratory, leaders of the House Science Committee said Thursday after a hearing on Mir safety.

Astronaut David Wolf is scheduled to be launched on space shuttle Atlantis next week to the Mir. He is to become the sixth astronaut to live on Mir, replacing Michael Foale, who has been there since May.

“There has been sufficient evidence put before this hearing to raise doubts about the safety of continued American long-term presence on the Mir,” said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), chairman of the Science Committee.

There is enough evidence, he said, “to force NASA to reevaluate whether to send David Wolf up on the shuttle next week.”


Peggy Wilhide, a NASA spokeswoman, said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin was told of the congressmen’s statements, but the space shuttle plans are unchanged. She said Goldin believes that the safety of Mir has been thoroughly evaluated by an experienced NASA flight operations team and that there was “no technical rational to believe the Mir is unsafe.”

As a final safeguard, she said, NASA is awaiting a safety report from Thomas Stafford, a former astronaut, who has been in Russia talking with space officials.

Wolf said on CNN’s “World View” Thursday evening that he has no fear for his safety on the upcoming mission, mainly because of his “good, careful training.”