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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Cuts Back Baturin's Stay on Mir

In another sign of the deep money troubles grounding Russia's space program, mission control announced Thursday that it will cut short a prominent politician's visit to the Mir space station.

Yury Baturin, a former Defense Council secretary and presidential adviser, had been scheduled to spend three weeks on the orbiting station in August. He will now spend just 13 days, Interfax reported, citing mission control.

Critics call the mission a wasteful junket, while supporters argue that sending a well-known politician into orbit could provide publicity and possibly win more funds for the struggling space program.

Yeltsin dismissed Baturin as secretary of the powerful Defense Council last year and fired him from his remaining post of presidential aide earlier this year.

However, the mission was not canceled, and Baturin said the dismissals would make it possible to concentrate on his preparations.

Baturin, 48, is a physicist by training. He is set to blast off to the station on Aug. 2 or 3, accompanied by two new cosmonauts, Gennady Padalka and Sergei Avdeyev.