Surging Ahead

The Soviets overtake the U.S. as the No. 1 spacefaring nation

Dominating one wall of the control room was an enormous display screen showing a map of the world. Superimposed on the map, a line traced the orbit of the Mir space station, with rings along it representing ground stations. Mir's position was marked by a blue-green light, which was moving slowly across the circle centered on Moscow. The flyby would take only eight minutes, after which the window of communication would close. The audio feed came through with startling clarity, as if Cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko were standing in the next room. "The work here is very interesting," he said in response...

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