[clari.news.hot.east_europe] Soviet cosmonauts test space bike

clarinews@clarinet.com (02/02/90)

	MOSCOW (UPI) -- Soviet cosmonauts Thursday successfully tested a
space bicycle specially designed to maneuver around the orbiting
station, Mir.
	Soviet television showed poor quality pictures of the machine,
which actually resembles a quilted airline seat, being maneuvered around
the Mir station and up to 30 yards from it at one stage.
	The ``bike'' was attached Thursday to the station by a cord but can
be independently powered and controlled by the cosmonaut sitting on it.
It is the fourth time in their five-month-long stay on Mir, that the two
men, Alexander Viktorenko and Alexander Serebrov, have been outside the
	Last week, they fitted a dock for the bike in preparation for
Thursday's tests and installed a television camera which proved
	The bike weighs 485 pounds and is powered by 32 small jet engines
operating on compressed air. Its maximum speed is about 30 yards per
	After completing a series of tests to the satisfaction of ground
staff, they returned to the airlock after four hours and 59 minutes in
space, Tass said.
	Further tests of the bike, which remained anchored to Mir by a
safety cord, will be carried out on Monday, Tass said.
	Serebrov and Viktorenko, veterans of two space flights and four
spacewalks, will return to Earth from Mir on Feb. 19 to be replaced by
another two-man crew under the program's policy of rotating the
station's personnel every six months.
	Previously, crews used to stay on Mir for up to a year allowing
Soviet cosmonauts to set up many endurance records. Mir was launched in
February 1986.