Ship of Foales

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MOSCOW: Michael Foale may be spacewalking after all. "We have tentatively agreed that the American astronaut and the Russian flight engineer (Alexander Lazutkin) will have a practice run on Monday, July 21," said mission control chief Vladimir Solovyov. "Then, we'll make a final decision with our NASA colleagues on whether to carry out the spacewalk." On the NASA side, there seems to be some disagreement. One spokeswoman confirmed Solovyov's account, while another, Catherine Watson said in Moscow, indicated that the idea of Foale on a "practice run" was a bit presumptuous. "He can do some basic things," she said, "but no official simulations or the actual spacewalk none of that's been approved by NASA yet." The twice-delayed repairs are now scheduled to begin July 24, less than two weeks before the Mir's replacement crew, composed of two Russians and a Frenchman, is slated to launch on August 5. Foale, whom the Russians have suggested is not only able but very willing to help, may have convinced his cautious superiors on Earth to give him a little space.