Next Stop Mir

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.: Space Shuttle Atlantis departs for Mir Thursday night at 10:30, and David Wolf will be on it. NASA chief Daniel Goldin said that although the space agency was "deeply touched" by the public concern with the flight in particular, the cantankerous complaints of Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner "the decision to continue our joint participation aboard Mir should not be based on emotion or politics." TIME Washington correspondent Dick Thompson explains: "NASA can't be seen giving in to congressional pressures, especially when international science is involved. It would make us an unreliable space partner."

To Goldin and to Wolf, Mir seems safe enough; and with the International Space Station already in incubation, the show, as they say, must go on.