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Saturday, January 3, 1998 Published at 04:52 GMT


Mir crew tackle latest breakdown
image: [ The New Year has not brought any respite to the troubles on Mir ]
The New Year has not brought any respite to the troubles on Mir

The crew of the Mir space station appear to be on their way to solving the latest technical problems that have befallen their mission.

Russian space officials say the cosmonauts have successfully realigned Mir's complex - by firing the orientation engines of an attached Soyuz spacecraft.

Power loss

On Friday a new computer failure caused its solar panels to become mis-aligned. The Russian space station briefly lost power as its solar panels stopped tracking the sun.

A spokesman said the reorientation was essential to ensure a stable power supply to Mir's life-support systems. The crew have also been repairing the computer which has suffered its eighth in the past 12 months. He said the latest problems had not placed the three-man crew - Russians Anatoly Solovyov, Pavel Vinogradov and Nasa scientist David Wolf - in danger.

New computer, new problems

Mir's computer system was replaced in November after a string of malfunctions. It is this new technology, which was brought to Mir on the Progress cargo ship, which has gone wrong in the latest breakdown.

"There was a computer malfunction. The power supply has been cut off from the station's modules except the main one," said a duty officer at mission control outside Moscow. The crew could not immediately tell what component in the computer had stopped working.

Mir has previously survived such breakdowns but with some close shaves, including a near-fatal collision in June.

In the past, computer failures on Mir have taken only a couple of days to fix.

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