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Mir basically sound, returning cosmonauts say

The Mir space station might have its flaws, but the past few months have proven it is basically sound and still belongs in orbit, two freshly returned cosmonauts said Saturday.

At a news conference at Star City, the cosmonaut training camp, Anatoly Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov conceded that Mir was hobbling when they arrived for a six-month mission in August.The two have been widely credited with bringing Mir back to good health after a string of glitches and near-catastrophes, including an on-board fire and a collision with a cargo ship.

As they worked on the station's problems, "Literally, before our eyes, the station began to work, modules got warm, moisture disappeared," Solovyov said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

"Naturally, I, as a Russian, believe in our hardware and praise it, but all the American astronauts who came to Mir were also astounded by the excellent condition of the station," he added.