But it's not champagne-and-caviar time just yet for Vinagradov and his fellow cosmonauts. Not only do they have to seal off Spektr, there's also an argument back on earth over the worth of the battered module. "The Russians are eager to repair Spektr and get it back in operation," says TIME Science Writer Dick Thompson. "But American program managers don't believe that Spektr will ever be of much use — because it could never be certified as safe." So much for a job well done. Some comfort for the Mir crew is a guaranteed place in the history books — for performing the riskiest repair of the space age.
"I can hear the sound of a living module," said Pavel Vinogradov excitedly after plugging in the final power cable in Spektr this morning. Just as audible was the sigh of relief from the Russian Space Agency. After enduring two last minute glitches which almost nixed the highly risky repair mission — not to mention three months in which Mir became a byword for malfunction — the station is close to being fully functional again. To be precise, 80 percent of power will most likely be restored.