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Last Mir Crew Heads Home

August 27, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ The last full-time crew undocked from the Mir and glided toward Earth early Saturday, bidding farewell to the rust-stained, rattling, 13-year-old Russian space station in preparation for its abandonment next year.

Crew commander Viktor Afanasyev, cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev and French astronaut Jean-Paul Haignere climbed from the Mir’s main module into a Soyuz escape capsule and heaved the hatch shut late Friday.

They then took off for earth at 1:17 a.m. Moscow time Saturday (5:17 p.m. EDT Friday), said Irina Manshilina, spokeswoman at Mission Control north of Moscow. They were to land in a deserted steppe in the former Soviet republic of Kazakstan about 3 1/2 hours later.

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