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Cosmonauts to be Launched On Thursday

March 12, 1986

MOSCOW (AP) _ Two cosmonauts who set a world endurance record in space in 1984 are to be launched Thursday aboard a Soyuz T-15 spacecraft, the Soviet Union announced today.

The launch comes less than a month after that of the huge orbital platform Mir, described as a new-generation space station in which up to six spacecraft can dock. The current Soviet space station, Salyut 7, has two docking ports.

Tass said cosmonauts Leonid Kizim and Vladimir Solovev were completing pre- launch preparations at the Baikonur launch pad in Soviet central Asia. Tass said the launch was scheduled for 12:33 p.m. GMT Thursday (7:33 a.m. EST Thursday ).

It is unusual for the Soviets to announce manned space flights in advance. Such announcements usually occur when Westerners are involved.

Advance announcements were made in 1982 when Frenchman Jean-Loup Chretien was aboard a Soviet flight and in 1984 when Indian cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma was aboard. In addition, the U.S.-Soviet linkup in 1975 of Apollo and Soyuz spaceships was announced in advance.

Tass did not report how long the latest mission would be or give other details.

On Tuesday, an American space engineer and author who closely monitors the Soviet space program said three unmanned Soviet craft launched had moved within four miles of each other about 210 miles above Earth and that he expected they soon would link to form one large station.

The engineer, James Oberg, said the Salyut 7 space station, launched in 1982, is linked to a craft called Cosmos 1686, which was launched last fall.

The dual craft, he said, has drifted into a closely parallel orbit with the Mir, a large Salyut-type spacecraft that the Soviets have said will form the core of a new space station.

Mir, which means peace in Russian, was launched Feb. 20.

Kizim and Solovev spent 237 days in Salyut 7 in 1984, setting a record for the longest space mission.

Kizim, in his 40s, made a 13-day repair mission in 1980 and then spent made the 237-day mission in 1984. He has made six walks in space. Solovev, a flight engineer, also has made six walks in space.

The Soviets have an extensive, advanced program of research in medicine, pharmaceuticals and biology. The Soviets have reported using observations from their stations to locate schools of fish. They also have grown crystals for use in electronics, grown plants for food and conducted cellular studies on animals as large as monkeys.

America’s space station is in the planning stage. President Reagan has instructed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to plan one to be in operation in the early 1990s.

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