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ASTRONAUT GOES FOR GOLD IN SPACE

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At least one astronaut is going for the gold in space.

Shuttle Columbia crewman Charles Brady Jr. held an Olympic torch - minus the flame - as he pedaled as hard as he could on a stationary cycle Thursday. Researchers on the ground monitored his lungs."We understand he's the winner so far," NASA said.

The reply from space: "Chuck is definitely a winner with all of us up here."

For safety reasons, gold-colored foil substituted for the flame.

The torch - this time with a real flame - will be used in an Olympic ceremony July 7 at the Kennedy Space Center. The seven U.S., Canadian and French astronauts will land that morning, provided NASA extends the flight to a record-breaking 17 days.

One week into the flight, Brady and the three other human guinea pigs aboard conducted more experiments to gauge the effects of weightlessness on their bodies. NASA wants to understand these changes before it starts building and staffing the international space station in a few years.