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March 17, 1997
Michael Braukus
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1979)

Eileen Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Release: 97-45

Anniversary Marks Milestone of U.S. Presence in Space

Saturday, March 22, marks the one-year anniversary of a continuous U.S. presence in space, which began with the launch of astronaut Shannon Lucid aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-76 mission to the Mir space station.

Since Lucid arrived on Mir, astronauts John Blaha and Jerry Linenger have followed in her footsteps, conducting continuous scientific experiments aboard the Russian complex as a precursor to the development and occupancy of the International Space Station.

Linenger will remain aboard Mir until mid-May, when he will be replaced by astronaut Mike Foale, who, in turn, will be replaced in September by astronaut Wendy Lawrence. The final U.S. astronaut scheduled for a tour of duty on the Mir is David Wolf in early 1998.

Former astronaut Norm Thagard was the first U.S. astronaut to live and work on the Mir. Thagard spent four months on the Russian outpost in 1995. Lucid spent a U.S. - record 188 days in space from the time of her launch on March 22, 1996, to her return to Earth on the STS-79 mission on Sept. 26, 1996. Blaha, who arrived on the STS-79 mission on Sept. 16 last year, spent 128 days in space, returning to Earth aboard Atlantis at the completion of the STS-81 mission on Jan. 22, 1997. Linenger was launched on the STS-81 mission on Jan. 12.


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