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Sharing Space With Dr. Lucid

Wilbur Wright was at the controls when the first woman went up in an airplane - a four-minute flight in 1909. When Shannon Lucid comes home from the Russian space station Mir on Sept. 26, she will have spent 188 days in orbit, longer than any other woman and any other American.

It's one way to hint at the difference between the first decade of the century and the last. We still have earthling problems aplenty, but expectations soar beyond all the old frontiers. And high expectations - or lack of them - affect a first-grade classroom as well as an outpost in space.

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Yes, President Clinton decides not to go ahead with manned flight to Mars. But that possibility now seems hardly more remote than footsteps on the moon once seemed.

Dr. Lucid - Welcome home! - joins the long line of proxies for the rest of us as assumed limitations give way to new realms of thought and achievement. Naturalist John Muir wrote, "We all dwell in a house of one room." In that sense, we've all been with her aboard the Mir, or - in English - Peace.

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