The Soviet Mir space station will be unmanned for the first time in three years after April 27 when its three cosmonauts return to Earth, the Soviet news agency announced Wednesday.

The Tass dispatch - on the eve the 28th anniversary of the flight of the first man in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin - confirmed a United Press International report Friday that the three-man Mir crew was unlikely to be immediately replaced after their mission ends."The space flight of Soviet cosmonauts Alexander Volkov, Sergei Krikalev and Valery Polyakov is drawing to a close," Tass said. "The cosmonauts will return to Earth April 27, while Mir will continue its flight unmanned."