Russia has extended by five days the Mir space station mission by cosmonauts Viktor Afanasyev, Sergei Avdeyev and Jean-Pierre Haignere. The crew, of what will probably be the last Mir mission, was scheduled to return to earth on 23 August.

Despite the impending end of the Mir station, experimental work continues. The Progress M42 tanker craft docked with Mir on 18 July after its Baikonur launch on a Soyuz booster two days earlier. The tanker carried the Reflector experiment, intended to demonstrate the use of lightweight deployable framework antennas for communications satellites.

Avdeyev has broken the world spaceflight record by spending over 700 days in space in three flights. His cumulative record exceeds Dr Valeri Poliakov's record of 676 days on two flights. Avdeyev's return after over 400 days will not beat Poliakov's record for the longest single flight of 438 days.

Source: Flight International