Russian cosmonaut Viktor Afanasyev, who will command the 27th resident crew to fly to the Mir space station in February, says that his mission will not be the final one to the space station, as planned originally.

The mission will have a duration of just three months. A further two missions will be required while Mir remains in orbit until 2000 rather than until next June, he says.

The original plan was that Afanasyev and his flight engineer Sergei Avdeyev - now aboard the Mir - plus Frenchman Jean Pierre Haignere, would assist the de-orbiting of Mir in June.

Source: Flight International