Too-tiny astronaut bumped from Mir mission
July 31, 1997
Web posted at: 3:39 p.m. EDT (1939 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For want of a smaller spacesuit, Wendy Lawrence apparently won't be entering the exclusive club of U.S. astronauts who have made extended stays on the Russian
space station Mir.
Lawrence, who was already rejected once for Mir duty because
of her 5-foot-3 stature, can't get a good fit in the
spacesuits Russians are planning to use in upcoming
spacewalks to repair the battered station.
NASA announced Thursday that Dr. Dave Wolf, and not Lawrence,
would replace U.S. astronaut Michael Foale aboard Mir in
"Our first preference would have been to see Lawrence
qualify," said Frank Culbertson, the director of the NASA
Lawrence would have needed to wear a Russian spacesuit if she
had been asked to help repair the ailing station.
"As we began to look at the way the mission was shaping up
... it became apparent that we would be wise to respond to
the reality of the situation," Culbertson said.
The shuttle mission to replace Foale will be delayed for
about 10 days so Wolf -- who measures 5 foot 10 -- can
complete mission training, pushing the launch date to
"The change will enable Wolf to act as a backup crew member
for spacewalks planned over the next several months to repair
the damaged Spektr module on the Russian outpost," a NASA
press statement said.
However, Lawrence will continue her training with Wolf in
Star City, Russia. And she will accompany him on the
September shuttle mission, acting as a backup in case Wolf
falls ill or is injured. She would only be involved in
science experiments, not spacewalks, if she were left aboard
Speaking from the Russian space agency, Culbertson said that
while Lawrence is disappointed at not being able to go as
planned, "she is happy that she will at least get a space
flight out of it and will be able to participate in the
activities on the Mir, and I think is enthusiastic about
helping Dave get ready."
"'Frank, I totally understand. If I were in your position I
would do the same thing,'" Culbertson said Lawrence told him.
Wolf had been scheduled to go to Mir next January as the
prime crew member for the last U.S. long-duration mission on
Mir. NASA said that Dr. Andrew Thomas, currently training in
Russia, was a likely candidate to take Wolf's place on that
mission, because he had already been training as Wolf's
backup for that mission.
"We're still evaluating when to start Andy on the EVA
(spacewalk) training," said Culbertson. "He's in the middle
of other training activities right now, and we need to
evaluate one thing versus the other."
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