Korolov - July 18, 2000 - MirCorp’s board of directors today approved a schedule of flights to Mir that it hopes will lead to a permanent re-occupation of the orbital outpost by early next year.
The schedule of privately-financed MirCorp flights begins with the launch of an unmanned resupply spacecraft to Mir this fall, followed by two long-duration missions with cosmonauts in 2001.
So-called "Citizen Explorer" Dennis Tito will ride shotgun on the second crew flight enabling him to spend 10 days aboard the station at a reported cost of $1 million a day.
MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber said, we can now enter into final negotiations with the many potential clients who have been awaiting our establishment of a long-term flight schedule.
"These potential clients involve a mix of aerospace companies, financial services, media outlets and providers of consumer goods."
With the launch of a Progress unmanned resupply spacecraft this fall MirCorp will send propellant and other supplies to enable Mir’s continuous autonomous operation into early 2001.
It will be the third such resupply mission to Mir since MirCorp did a deal with RSC Energia, the Russian space systems manufacturer that built and operates the space station on behalf of the Russia government, to delay a destructive reentry earlier of the station this year.
Since then, MirCorp has raised partial funding for its bid to keep Mir flying for several more years as an orbiting platform for entrepreneurs. Mir currently is unmanned following the successful MirCorp-funded 73 day mission of two cosmonauts that ended June 16, marked the world's first commercial flight to renovate a manned space station opening Mir for commercial operations.
MirCorp’s next manned mission will be launched to Mir in early 2001, with two Russian cosmonauts spending several months aboard the orbital station. In mid-year, they will be joined by a two-man Russian cosmonaut replacement crew that will be joined by Citizen Explorer Tito.
Tito will stay on the station for approximately 10 days, returning to Earth with the first crew. The replacement cosmonauts will continue to live and work on the station for a mission that continues into the second half of 2001.
"The board’s vote to permanently man Mir sends a message to our potential strategic partners, investors, sponsors, advertisers and affiliates that MirCorp’s momentum is building," said Andrew Eddy, MirCorp’s Senior Vice President, Business Development.
MirCorp’s long-term mission plan will be reported to the appropriate Russian government authorities for validation and coordination.
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