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Terror for crew out in space.

Byline: STEPHEN WHITE

A GRINDING, metallic sound shattered the silence aboard the Space Station orbiting 240 miles above the Earth.

Its two astronauts were gripped by the fear of the unknown as they traced the noise to an unoccupied part of the Russian-built craft.

Last night, Russian space officials were able to report that both men were safe - but mystery still surrounds the disturbance.

The station's American commander Michael Foale, who was born in Louth, Lincs, believed an alien object had struck after hearing what sounded like "a tin can being crushed".

But an investigation has proved inconclusive and yesterday a spokesman for Mission Control in Moscow said that the station was not damaged.

Valery Lyndin added: "All the station's systems are working normally."

Mission Control later blamed a faulty onboard instrument for the noise.

But Russia's Space Forces, which monitor debris, said the station could have hit space junk.

CAPTION(S):

SOUND: Foale
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 28, 2003
Words:154
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