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Spacewalk Couldn’t Fix Mir Hatch

January 12, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ The latest spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts has failed to fix an air leak from the Mir orbiting station’s exit hatch, space officials said today.

Officials had hoped that cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov successfully sealed the hatch on the Mir’s Kvant-2 module during their spacewalk Friday.

But pressure in the module has been dropping steadily since then, an indication the hatch is not closing completely because of a broken lock, said Mission Control deputy chief Viktor Blagov.

However, the leak is not considered a serious problem, as it affects only the Kvant’s docking chamber, which is sealed off from the rest of the station.

Further repair efforts will be postponed because the Mir’s Russian-American team is facing more pressing matters, said Mission Control spokeswoman Vera Medvedkova.

These include a spacewalk later this week, the planned docking with the U.S. shuttle Endeavor on Jan. 25 and the arrival of a Russian-French team on Jan. 30, she said.

During the next spacewalk, planned for Wednesday night, Solovyov and NASA astronaut David Wolf will collect some U.S. scientific experiments attached to the Mir’s outer hull. It would be the American’s first walk in space.

Mir, the world’s longest-flying orbiter, will mark its 12th anniversary in orbit next month, though it only had been expected to last for five years.

Despite continuing computer breakdowns, the latest of which occurred this month, the space outpost has been relatively quiet recently after a string of accidents last year.

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