In Moscow, meanwhile, engineers in Russia's Mission Control were
firming up a risky plan to send two space-suited cosmonauts into a
sealed-off lab in Mir.
Before its hull was ruptured in the crash, the lab housed 50
percent of American science experiments on board the Russian outpost as
well as blood and urine samples collected for biomedical studies.
Some experts believe vials containing those samples likely have
exploded after being exposed to the total vacuum of space. The inside of
the lab could now look like a slaughterhouse.
Poisonous chemicals from solar batteries inside the Spektr
module, as well as from other experiments, could have oozed into the
airless lab, making the prospect of going inside inconceivable to
American astronaut Michael Foale who has been attending the experiments
on board Mir since May.
"The idea of them going much farther than just the entryway of
Spektr seems a little bit incredible," Foale told ground controllers who
chose to ignore his astonishment.
The cosmonauts themselves expressed similar doubts. Mir
Commander Vasily Tsibliev told those on the ground he thought it would
be impossible for a man in a pressurized spacesuit to fit through the
hatch into the damaged module.
Russia's Mission Control had a curt response: "That's what the
training session is for."
Joseph S. Barrera III (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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