From Mir to Eternity

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MOSCOW: It gives a whole new meaning to orientation day. British-American Astronaut Michael Foale took his two new Russian crewmates for a ride in the Soyuz escape capsule today, circling the Mir from a distance of 70 yards for about 45 minutes. Not that it was simply a joy-ride; it was also a film shoot. The trio videotaped the exterior of the Spektr module -- the one that got smashed up in the cargo ship crash a couple of months ago -- to get a full accounting of its dents and dings.

The new arrivals, Anatoly Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov, are preparing for an Aug. 20 "internal spacewalk" into the airless Spektr, to reconnect power cables to the module's solar panels. The pair only arrived last week, and already they've brought a breath of fresh air to the crippled Space Station -- literally. Yesterday they fixed the oxygen generator system, which had been down for a number of weeks. Only trouble is, they had to shut it down again while taking Soyuz for a spin. Never mind, guys -- at least you didn't lock your keys inside.