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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Off to Mir, Without A Suitcase?

STAR CITY, Moscow Region -- Through no fault of her own, America's next space endurance champion will have two strikes against her when she blasts off for the Mir station next month.

Astronaut Shannon Lucid said Tuesday she should have the Russian-language problem whipped by the time her record five-month stay with two cosmonauts ends in August. With any luck, her research gear will have arrived by then, too.

For a second year, months-long delays on the Russian side mean a U.S. astronaut will spend weeks or months on the Mir without hundreds of kilograms of equipment that were promised to be flown up in advance.

This time, construction of the Priroda module taking up 700 to 800 kilograms of gear for biochemist Lucid is way behind schedule, and the module will not arrive until at least April, instead of November as planned.

After watching crewmates Yury Onofrenko and Yury Usachev blast off Feb. 21, Lucid will end her Russia training and return to the United States for a March 21 shuttle launch taking her to the Mir. Lucid's experiments during a planned 140-day flight are to include examining the effects of weightlessness on her crewmates, on photosynthesis, on flames and on quail embryos.