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    New space station chief has special request

    ©Associated Press
    June 9, 2002

    CAPE CANAVERAL -- The international space station's new skipper says forget 'N Sync singer Lance Bass as the orbiting outpost's next tourist. Send up Cindy Crawford!

    "We would be very happy to see one of the supermodels," Russian Valery Korzun said Saturday in response to a reporter's question as he settled in for a long and cloistered stay.

    He quickly added: "But this is a joke, and we will be very happy to receive any space tourist. They're very welcome here."

    Korzun and his crew, American Peggy Whitson and Russian Sergei Treschev, moved into the international space station Friday evening after their arrival aboard space shuttle Endeavour. They will spend the next 41/2 months on board.

    On Saturday, the astronauts hoisted a crammed cargo-carrier from the shuttle and attached it to the station for unloading, and prepared for today's spacewalk, the first of three planned during Endeavour's visit.

    They also reported a loud, growling noise inside the space station. It turned out to be a broken gyroscope that was commanded to spin down and then shut down. One of the bearings apparently seized up.

    NASA said the other gyroscopes were working fine and that the failure would not affect the station's navigation and control. But the bad unit will need to be replaced, and the earliest that can happen is early next year.

    "From a risk perspective right now, we're in good shape," said flight director Paul Hill. "But this is a major component that's failed, and we are going to do the best we can to get the next (gyroscope) ready to fly."

    Russian space officials, meanwhile, have yet to sell the empty third seat in the Soyuz capsule that is scheduled to be launched to the space station in October. The 23-year-old Bass is hoping to buy his way on board, as is a 40-year-old former NASA official, Lori Garver.

    Whoever snags the seat will be the third person to spend millions of dollars for a weeklong space station cruise.

    Korzun, who may still be on board when the Soyuz arrives, praised South African Internet tycoon Mark Shuttleworth, who visited the space station a month ago.

    Shuttleworth is a great computer specialist, Korzun said, "and he was very helpful on board the station."

    Korzun and his crew replaced the two Americans and one Russian who had been living aboard the space station since December. Their mission, at the 185-day mark on Saturday, will surpass NASA's space endurance record by the time they return to Earth.

    Korzun said he is prepared to remain in orbit even longer.

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