'The Next Few Days are Critical'

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Even the dry delivery of a NASA spokesman couldn't mask the seriousness of the situation. Three men, floating in darkness, turning the damaged Mir spacecraft's solar panels with carefully timed bursts of rocket fuel from the Soyuz space ship that's their only avenue home. "Basically, these guys will be laying low, trying not to breathe too much, trying not to use too much power," reports TIME's Dick Thompson. A spacewalk will be required to restore power fully. But the crew will have to wait at least ten days, which is the soonest a Russian supply ship with repair equipment just now being made could launch. Until then, Mir commander Vasily Tsibliyev, U.S. astronaut Mike Foale and his fellow crewmen have just one thing to do: give the creaky Mir an attitude adjustment. More