A Letter From the Publisher: Oct. 5, 1987

When TIME Correspondent Dick Thompson arrived in Moscow to report this week's cover story, he told Soviet space officials that he was looking for "something special." How about an interview with the cosmonauts on board the Mir space station? he inquired. The request took the Soviets by surprise, and the immediate answer was nyet: interviews with cosmonauts must be arranged well in advance and not on an exclusive basis. Besides, Thompson was told, the cosmonauts hate shaving and making all the other preparations required before meeting the press. "My pen doesn't take pictures," Thompson replied; all he wanted was a brief...

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