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MIR CREW HAS QUIET DAY IN ORBIT

At long last, the crew of the Mir space station spent a quiet day in orbit Tuesday, beginning preparations for a long goodbye from the spacecraft after a wild and unforgettable ride.

Any tests of new technology will no doubt be left to the next Mir crew, which has been charged with repairing the damage the current crew incurred when a cargo ship plowed into the space station on June 25.

It was only the worst of many mishaps that plagued the crew, particularly the cosmonauts, Vasily Tsibliyev and Alexander Lazutkin, who have coped with fire, oxygen-system breakdowns and power outages since boarding in February.

They began health tests and physical training Tuesday to get in shape for their return, scheduled for Aug. 14, Mission Control said.

Astronaut Michael Foale, who is expected to stay aboard until mid-September, took a routine blood test and worked on his greenhouse experiments.

Russian space officials have decided that a fresh crew will be better trained and better fit to carry out an arduous spacewalk needed to restore nearly full power to the station.

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