TRYING TO RIGHT THE SHIP

A CRASH IN ORBIT ENDANGERS RUSSIA'S MIR SPACE STATION AND MAY THREATEN U.S.-RUSSIAN COOPERATION

Last Wednesday the two Russians and one American aboard the Mir space station were playing a video game with the highest possible stakes. Outside, an unmanned Progress cargo ship hung in space, pointing its television camera toward Mir. Inside, Commander Vasily Tsibliyev watched a monitor as he operated a pair of joysticks, coaxing the robot ship in for a docking. But inexplicably, Progress stopped responding to Tsibliyev's commands and rammed the station. The collision damaged Mir's solar panels and punctured its hull, threatening not only the lives of the crew but perhaps the future of U.S.-Russian collaboration in space as well.

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