A hole in his space station was not the only thing former Mir commander Vasily Tsibliev plugged on his star-crossed mission -- he also made a television commercial for Israeli milk.
Israel's Channel 2 television broadcast a preview today of the ad, which shows Tsibliev swallowing a floating globule of long-life milk that he squeezed out of a Hebrew-lettered carton.
"The Milk in Space' commercial is the story of a cosmonaut who, hundreds of miles away in space and months away from home, craves fresh-tasting milk," said a spokeswoman for Gitam/BBDO, the advertising agency that produced the commercial for Tnuva, Israel's biggest food manufacturer.
She said $450,000 was budgeted for the 90-second commercial and a fee, which she declined to disclose, was paid to the Russian space agency. She said she did not know if the Mir crew received any payment.
Flight engineer Alexander Lazutkin filmed Tsibliev drinking the milk on July 25, a month after Mir and a supply ship collided while the space station commander was performing a manual docking. After the accident, the crew risked their lives by sealing off the punctured Spektr module rather than abandoning ship.
At the Mir control station, the commercial's Israeli directors radioed instructions to Lazutkin on a two-way satellite link. About 150 Russian extras were brought to Mission Control for the ad.
Tsibliev and Lazutkin returned to earth on Aug. 14 after six months in orbit.
The milk, which needs no refrigeration, underwent microbiological examination at the Mir control station laboratory to ensure it was bacteria-free before being rocketed into space, the ad agency said.
The ad marks Russia's second foray into commercials in space. Last May, two Mir cosmonauts on a spacewalk were filmed deploying a large replica of Pepsi's new blue can. CAPTION: Mir commander Vasily Tsibliev was filmed in space drinking long-life Israeli-made milk.