WEDNESDAY: Fly Me to the Mir

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.: Place your bets, please: will NASA Astronaut David Wolf fly aboard the Shuttle Atlantis Thursday on a Mir-bound mission? Not if Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. has his way. The House Science Committee chairman has been against sending any more boys up that way since June's collision between the Spektr module and a cargo ship, and wants to protect Wolf from becoming "an assistant Mr. Fix-It" aboard the embattled Russian station. That Wolf himself is quite keen to go appears to be beside the point.

The final decision rests with Daniel Goldin, head of NASA who is keeping everyone in suspense Wednesday by waiting on two final safety reports before making up his mind. TIME Washington correspondent Dick Thompson bets he'll say yes. "Goldin has been under the gun before," says Thompson. "If he hasn't changed his criteria that it's reasonably safe and there's measurable benefit Wolf will go as planned." At the very least, Atlantis will drop off a replacement computer, patches for holes, and pick up Michael Foale after his hair-raising four-and-a-half-month stay. Will Wolf replace him, or will Mir be Yankee-free? Tune in Thursday to find out.