The Mir conundrum

Published: Monday 15 February 1999

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says it wants Russia to abandon its Mir space station so it will not be in competition with its international successor. Paradoxically, NASA officials are considering another space shuttle mission to Mir. The proposed mission would retrieve a docking module which, according to a leaked Internet e-mail, NASA had "no intention whatsoever of ever seeing... on this Earth again". NASA-watchers suspect that the space agency has accepted that Russia will cling on to the ageing Mir, and has decided that collaboration is a much better move than confrontation.

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