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There were high fives and smiles all round aboard Columbia Saturday as mission control confirmed the medical research flight would last a record-breaking 17 days for a space shuttle.

With the theme from the movie "Mission: Impossible" playing in the background, spacecraft communicator Chris Hadfield told Columbia's crew that mission managers had agreed to let them try to break the record."Columbia . . . your mission, and we know you'll be glad to accept it, is to extend to 17 days in orbit," radioed Hadfield.

The message was greeted enthusiastically in the shuttle's bus-size research laboratory, where the grinning astronauts clapped and exchanged high fives.

"We are willing, able and eagerly anticipating all the data we are going to gather with that extra day on orbit, so thanks a lot to management," radioed Columbia commander Tom Henricks

"They had been really on-edge waiting for the news," said John Shannon, the mission's flight director. "They knew they had a good ship, they knew they had good experiments and they really wanted that extra day. It really made my morning to see how excited they were."

Shuttle managers confirmed the mission would last nearly 17 days after meeting informally on Saturday at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said NASA spokesman Rob Navias.

The astronauts were woken on Saturday by a recording of "Another Saturday Night" played by "Max-Q", an all-astronaut band.

The astronauts will get another Saturday night in orbit and are due to return home on the morning of Sunday, July 7.

"We'll stay up here as many of those Saturday nights as you guys want to give," astronaut Susan Helms, who plays keyboard for the band, told mission control.

Columbia's international crew, which includes two medical doctors and a veterinarian, are studying the effects of space travel on the human body.

Henricks, on his fourth space mission, is in command of the $2 billion reusable spaceship and Kevin Kregel is in the pilot's seat. Mission specialists are Susan Helms, Rick Linnehan and Chuck Brady. Canadian Bob Thirsk and Frenchman Jean-Jacques Favier serve as payload specialists.

Endeavour, the newest of NASA's four shuttles, holds the record for the longest shuttle flight to date, an astronomy mission in March 1995 that lasted 16 days and 15 hours. The space agency hopes Columbia will break that record by about seven hours.

A 17-day space flight, however, is a walk in the park for Russian cosmonauts who are used to spending months at a time in orbit. Cosmonaut Valery Polyakov, a med- ical doctor, holds the record for the longest space mission with more than 14 months in orbit aboard the Russian Mir space station in 1994 and 1995.

Hurricane Boris, swirling off the coast of Mexico, packing winds of up to 85 mph, came into the astronaut's field of view Saturday afternoon.

"Its obviously one huge storm," Henricks told mission control as the shuttle passed overhead.