A top Russian space official predicted Tuesday that the crew of the Mir space station will completely repair damage from a June cargo ship collision before the end of the year.
“If we are lucky and no more problems arise, the Mir orbiting station will fully recover from the June 25 accident … by the New Year,” said Vladimir Solovyov, flight control chief at Mission Control.
Three more spacewalks are planned to assess and fix the damage caused when a cargo ship collided with the Spektr module, punching one or more holes in its hull, Solovyov was quoted saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.
The U.S. space shuttle Atlantis, which left Mir on Friday, delivered sealant for the holes and other essential equipment. It also brought up astronaut David Wolf, who is to spend four months on the Russian station.
On Tuesday, the Mir’s crew successfully discarded a garbage-filled supply ship, sending it plummeting into Earth’s atmosphere and clearing the way for a day-late docking with a new resupply craft. The arriving ship - carrying a new back-up computer, fuel and drinking water - is set to dock with Mir late today.