The commander of the crippled space station Mir complained of an irregular heartbeat Monday and asked nervously whether he is healthy enough to take part in a vital mission to repair the damaged Russian spacecraft.
“For crying out loud!” cosmonaut Vasily Tsibliyev exclaimed after reporting his symptoms. “This is bad timing.”
“You have to calm down!” a doctor from Mission Control told him repeatedly, urging the 43-year-old crew leader to get more sleep.
“Will I be able to make the trip?” Tsibliyev asked, referring to the repair mission.
“Let us think and see,” the doctor replied.
In coming days, either Tsibliyev or his crewmate, Alexander Lazutkin, needs to make a trek into the airless, ruptured Spektr module - one of six modules that make up the Mir - on a mission to restore full power in the space station, home to the two cosmonauts and American astronaut Michael Foale.
A final dress rehearsal for the five-hour mission is set for today - three weeks after the Spektr was hit by a cargo ship, forcing the crew to seal it off and disconnect the power cables.
The accident was the latest in a series of mishaps that have struck the 11-year-old orbiting space station since February, when Tsibliyev began what has turned out to be a tense tour of space duty.
Tsibliyev blamed his heart problem on the stress of the collision, which occurred while he was practicing docking the cargo ship.
Valery Lyndin, a spokesman for Russian Mission Control, said Tsibliyev’s heart rate showed some irregularities during a recent ride on a stationary bike, but his condition did not appear to be serious.
Doctors gave the crew thorough physicals and will decide today whether Tsibliyev can participate in the repairs.
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