Bugs in Space

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MOSCOW: Mir is adrift once more after a failure of the space station's main computer. The systems shut-down occurred while a cargo ship was docking. Now the troubled space station's solar panels are no longer pointed at the sun, leaving its rickety body wobbling and unoriented and its crew in the dark.

For ground control, however, this is old hat. "We've had such situations earlier," said Mission Control chief Vladimir Solovyov, who admitted that the result of the "chaotic flight" was hard to predict. "They're trained to deal with such consequences," he said.

Even without their version of Hal, the crew has enough oxygen and food for the moment. And the docking, performed manually by new commander Anatoly Solovyov, was successful. That, at least, is an improvement.