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And After Cleaning, She Can Put Up Some Lace Curtains Russian Space Official Says Shuttle Needs Woman’s Touch

It’s nice to have a woman around the house, er, space station. That’s because they like to clean, a top Russian space official said.

As U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid settles into her new home for the next 4-1/2 months, Russian space officials are looking forward to a woman’s touch - with a duster. Lucid is the third woman to live aboard Mir in its 10-year history.

“We know that women love to clean,” Gen. Yuri Glazkov, deputy director of the Russian Space Agency’s training center, said at a pre-launch news conference at Kennedy Space Center.

Women clean better than men and that could be useful with exhaust fans, said Glazkov, who called himself “an expert on women.”

Lucid, a five-time astronaut with a doctorate in biochemistry, was good-natured Tuesday when told of Glazkov’s comments.

“That kind of thinking doesn’t bother me; I’m here,” Lucid said in a Mir-to-ground news conference. “We all work together to keep the place pretty tidy.”

Glazkov said he believes that Lucid and the other women who will travel to Mir in the future will add a degree of refinement to the space station.

“The presence of a lady aboard the Mir station helps,” he said, adding that the last time a woman was aboard Mir, the other two male cosmonauts came back more civilized and cultured.

Glazkov was quick to add that Lucid will be treated as an equal on Mir and will be respected as a scientist.