THURSDAY: Mir No More?

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WASHINGTON: Could U.S.-Russian cooperation in space be in jeopardy? Congressional hearings on the issue started Thursday, and if House Science Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner gets his way, no more American astronauts will be sent to Mir. But the congressman's call for a NASA boycott of the embattled space station will likely fall on deaf ears because Michael Foale is no longer in much danger, reports TIME science correspondent Jeff Kluger. "A month ago Sensenbrenner's argument was strong," Kluger says, "but after the repair it got a little weaker. As it stands now, nobody is going to opt for ending U.S. participation until they shut the thing down or there's a major accident." Given Mir's rather shaky record, the latter can never be ruled out. But the station has been pretty tenacious thus far and since the U.S. badly needs Russian cooperation for the planned International Space Station, NASA may well be delivering astronauts to Mir right up until its scheduled end a 1999 splashdown in the Pacific.