January 26, 1998 in Nation/World

Astronaut Highly Trained, But Ill-Suited For Job

Compiled From Wire Services

Despite an ill-fitting spacesuit, American astronaut Andrew Thomas moved into Mir on Sunday while NASA and the Russian Space Agency debated whether to leave him there.

At first, Mission Control told Thomas not to spend Sunday night aboard the Russian space station. Officials later relented; the reason wasn’t entirely clear.

The bottom line was that the suit snafu remained and had the potential to cancel Thomas’ 4-1/2-month Mir mission.

To remain aboard Mir, Thomas needs a properly fitting spacesuit to wear in the attached Soyuz spacecraft. Even though he’s not supposed to ride in the Soyuz, that’s his only way back to Earth in the event of an emergency following Endeavour’s departure.

Thomas’ custom-made Russian suit for the Soyuz is so tight he can’t get into it. And the only spare, the suit belonging to David Wolf, a Mir resident for the past four months, is too big.

NASA held out hope that perhaps one of the suits could be adjusted or that parts from the two could be combined. The problem with Wolf’s suit is that the sleeves are 6 inches too long for Thomas. Thomas is 5-8 and weighs 160 pounds; Wolf is 5-10 and weighs 185 pounds.

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