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Mir News

MOSCOW--Citing safety concerns as well as the importance of proper
craftsmanship, Russian Space Agency officials announced Tuesday a
delay of at least six months before carving is completed on the newest
Russian space station.

"The two-by-four frame which forms the station's primary airlock is
still in the clamps and hasn't even been sanded yet," said Russian
Space Agency director-general Yuri Koptev, explaining the delay.
"There are also a number of key navigational instruments which we have
not yet begun to whittle."

Originally scheduled for completion this month, the new station ran
into difficulties on June 2, when several nails came loose during a
routine docking exercise, resulting in an explosion that destroyed the
space station's guidance system and badly injured cosmonaut
Nikolai Budarin. The malfunction, which also caused serious damage to
the station's steering thruster, was traced to faulty hammering.

"The nails were not hammered in straight," Koptev said. "We will pull
them all out and do it again."

Another major setback occurred just two days later, when a pair of
vagrants jimmied open the lock on the space station's main entry hatch
and spent the night in it.

"They urinated all over the place," chief engineer Talgat Musabayev
said. "This created serious problems, as the floor had not yet been
varnished and sealed, so the urine soaked through and caused a
terrible smell. I cannot go in the space station now without covering
my nose."

Musabayev said the agency has requested $3 in additional funding from
the Russian government to purchase a pine-scented bathroom spray to
combat the urine odor, but the request has not yet been approved.

Despite his frustration, Koptev said the setbacks have taught Russian
Space Agency officials much about the construction and maintenance of
space environments, knowledge which will help them greatly in future
missions. "We may decide to work with clay in the
future, so that even if we make many mistakes, we can correct them
before the final firing," he said.

Another breakthrough for the Russian team was last week's discovery of
rigid, circular devices that facilitate the transportation of heavy
items. "We used to carry all of our components many miles to the space
center in our arms," Koptev said. "But now, by affixing
these round devices to boxes and baskets, we can transport items with
far greater ease."

For reasons of national security, Koptev declined to elaborate on the
specifics of the device.

Source: http://www.theonion.com/onion3323/russianstation.html

Disclaimer: All in good fun folks.  I am actually a big fan of the
Russian space program.

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