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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foale Calls Repair Mission Valuable Lesson for Future

KOROLYOV, Central Russia -- In a live video link with NASA mission control in Houston, U.S. astronaut Michael Foale said Thursday that repairing the collision-damaged Mir space station will be a valuable learning experience for further cooperative efforts in space.

"This situation isn't going to be a one-off," said Foale, whose conversation was monitored at the Russian Space Agency's flight control center outside Moscow. "We're going to have events like this in the future in our combined space programs.

"The way we are working together and the way we are understanding how people respond to these emergencies is very, very important," he said. The United States and Russia are working with 12 other nations on the International Space Station, intended to replace Mir in 1999.

Mir was damaged by a collision with an unmanned Progress cargo vessel June 25. Since then, Foale and cosmonauts Alexander Lazutkin and Vasily Tsibliyev have struggled to restore electrical power lost in the accident.

Foale praised the Russian ground support teams who have worked around the clock, custom-making equipment and devising strategies to reconnect solar energy cables inside the Spektr scientific module, which was punctured in the accident and had to be sealed off.

"I'm impressed," he said.

Next week, one of the cosmonauts will make an EVA, or spacewalk, into Spektr and try to restore full power to the station. During the operation, Foale will remain in the Soyuz escape capsule moored to the station.

"The plan looks like it's coming together. There are still a lot of questions about how to do the EVA into the Spektr and what I'll be doing in the Soyuz, but I think those questions are being answered."

Since the arrival Monday of the new vehicle with 2.5 tons of supplies and repair equipment, morale on Mir has been noticeably higher. Foale was smiling and animated as he spoke against a backdrop of U.S. and Russian flags.

"This is our friend we brought up on Progress," said Foale, holding up a specially built hatch plate, a fat disk the size of a racing-car wheel hub with holes that will allow power cables to pass through from the airless Spektr's solar arrays into the rest of the station without losing air pressure.

The collision was the latest mishap in the 11-year life of the station, which was intended to last five years. This year, the station has endured a fire and breakdowns in the oxygen-producing and climate-control systems. But the Russian and European space agencies and NASA say Mir is still safe.