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Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC
Permission previously granted by the Houston Chronicle

Aug. 14, 2003, 9:45PM

Future residents of space station push for chance
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

The next resident crew of the international space station said Thursday
it would be a mistake to suspend human activities aboard the
240-mile-high orbital base while NASA recovers from the loss of shuttle

"For us to not step up and not continue in space on the international
space station is, for me, not really an option," said Mike Foale, the
NASA astronaut who will lead a mission to the space station in late
October. "We need to show perseverance in our goals and dreams by
maintaining a human presence in space." 

"If we are able to maintain manned flight on board (the station), we
must do it," added Alexander Kaleri, the Russian cosmonaut who will
serve with Foale during the nearly seven-month mission. "That is why the
station is up there." 

The two men spoke at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where on Monday they
began two weeks of training on the station's U.S. equipment. 

At the end of the month, they'll return to Star City in Russia to
continue their preparations before a scheduled Oct. 18 liftoff from
Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket. 

Columbia's fatal Feb. 1 breakup grounded NASA's space shuttle fleet and
interrupted assembly of the station, a project shared by 16 nations. 

Though the investigative board reviewing the causes of Columbia's loss
plans to finish its work late this month, it's unclear how quickly NASA
can resume shuttle flights. 

Without the shuttle to ferry supplies to the space station, NASA and its
partners have been forced to reduce the number of resident astronauts
and cosmonauts from three to two. 

Russia's three-person Soyuz and small Progress cargo capsules offer the
only means of transporting people and supplies to the outpost. 

Foale, 46, and Kaleri, 47, will replace the first of the two-person
"caretaker" crews, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and astronaut Edward Lu. 

Malenchenko, the station commander, and Lu, the science officer, are
scheduled to return to Earth on Oct. 28 aboard a Soyuz capsule already
parked at the outpost. 

They will be accompanied by European Space Agency astronaut Pedro Duque
of Spain, who will travel to the station with Foale and Kaleri for a
brief visit. 

NASA has made tentative plans to resume shuttle missions between March
11 and April 6. However, guidelines for future flights established by
the accident investigation board are likely to push the first
post-Columbia mission later into 2004. 

For Foale and Kaleri, that means a great deal of uncertainty over
whether they will return to Earth landing in the United States aboard a
shuttle or descend by parachute into remote Kazakhstan in a Soyuz

"This is one of the more interesting aspects of our flight. We don't
really know how we will come home," said Foale. 

"I would really not want to guess when (the first post-Columbia) will
take place."

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