Science: Adrift in Orbit

A cosmonaut is nearly lost

In the sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, a space-walking astronaut is separated from his ship and sent hurtling off to his death in space by an intelligent but deranged computer. Last week, in spite of Russian efforts to keep the incident quiet, Western sources reported that a Soviet cosmonaut narrowly avoided a similar fate in February. The near mishap apparently resulted from an unauthorized space walk by Cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko, 33, during last spring's record-breaking 96-day orbital flight aboard the Salyut 6 space station.

Only Cosmonaut Georgi Grechko,...

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