Cracking Mir to be glued back together
The crew of Russia's Mir space station prepared for a spacewalk Friday to test a space glue designed to seal cracks in the aging craft.
Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri were to leave the station at 2:40 p.m. Moscow time (11:40 a.m. GMT) and were expected to spend more than five hours in space applying the glue to a special panel imitating the station's hull.
Once back inside, the crew are to study the panel to judge the quality of the protective layer, said Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin.
The 14-year-old station started slowly leaking air shortly before the previous crew returned to Earth last August, leaving Mir unmanned before the arrival of Zalyotin and Kaleri on April 6.
Officials say the pressure loss is minor and easily compensated by oxygen supplies delivered by a cargo ship last month. But sealing the small holes is seen as a priority task for the crew in view of plans to extend Mir's lifetime.
During the spacewalk, the crew is also expected to film the parts of the station which are worst affected by aging, study the condition of its solar panels and remove an experimental panel attached to Mir during a previous spacewalk.
The Russian government had planned to dump Mir into the ocean around March because it lacked the funds to keep it aloft, but extended the mission after the Netherlands-based MirCorp provided funds to develop business possibilities on Mir.
MirCorp officials have previously said that they have committed $10-20 million to finance the mission and promised to raise more funds to keep the station in orbit at least through the end of the year. They extolled Friday's mission as the first privately-funded spacewalk.
"Today's spacewalk is another demonstration of how a commercial space station should operate," said MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber. "The cosmonauts have done an excellent job reactivating Mir, and they are now adding a new dimension by taking their work into the full void of space."
The decision to extend Mir's life has annoyed the U.S. space agency NASA, which believes that it diverts scarce Russian resources from a new international space station. The new station is behind schedule because of Russia's failure to launch a key component. The Zvezda service module is currently set to be launched between July 8 and 14.
- 2 Qataris pledge to expand Canary Wharf
- 3 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
#JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
UK election candidates: 'Nasty party' Ukip faces fresh questions on eve of vote
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party's the right choice for you
Ohio 'Shawshank Redemption' fugitive Frank Freshwater arrested after 56 years on the run
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General election live: Booths open at 7am across the country on polling day
£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: C# and .Net Developer - n...
£35 - 40k: Guru Careers: Our client has a new role for a Digital Marketing Exe...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...