Mir's Gyroscopes Fail

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Space Station Mir's Gyroscopes Fail

MOSCOW (AP) -- Ground controllers have been unable to restart the gyroscopes that align the Mir space station, but space officials insisted Monday that the problem wouldn't affect an upcoming docking with a cargo ship intended to push the orbiter down for good.

The gyroscopes ground to a halt during a sudden power loss last week that disabled the 15-year-old Mir's central computer and its orientation system, prompting officials to put off the launch of the Progress M1 cargo ship for fears the Mir would be too unstable to dock with.

Mission Control quickly fixed the computer problem, but has failed to switch on the gyroscopes, the preferred, fuel-free way of aligning the station. Instead, Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin said, Mission Control is keeping the station stable using several dozen small thrusters.

''Ground controllers repeatedly tried to switch on the gyroscopes Saturday, but failed to get them working,'' Lyndin said.

The alternate alignment system won't affect the scheduled launch of the Progress M1, now set for Wednesday, or the Saturday docking, Lyndin said.

The Progress is to fire its rockets to push the troubled Mir toward the earth in March, jettisoning the station in the Pacific Ocean.

After years of waffling, the Russian government finally decided last year to discard the Mir and concentrate resources on the new NASA-led International Space Station, which the United States has urged for years.

AP-NY-01-22-01 0511EST< 

-- Rachel Gibsofn (rgibson@hotmail.com), January 22, 2001

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