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Mir crew begins training to repair damaged module

The Mir crew donned their cumbersome space-suits today to rehearse a long excursion into a ruptured module to improve the station's power supply - the second such venture in two months.

The mission into the airless and powerless Spektr module is scheduled to start at 12:55 p.m. Monday (2:55 a.m. MDT) and last for 51/2 hours, said Rufina Amosova, a Mission Control spokeswoman.The main goal is to connect its solar panels to an orientation computer located in another part of the station, she said. The Spektr was struck and pierced by a cargo ship in a June 25 collision.

Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov put on their spacesuits at around 2 p.m. Moscow time (6 a.m. EDT) for a two-hour exercise designed to practice moving through a narrow hatchway and making delicate cable connections while wearing bulky gloves, she said.

Their NASA crewmate, David Wolf, practiced boarding the Soyuz escape capsule, where he will stay during Monday's excursion.