Moscow (AFP) July 8, 2000 - Pizza Hut goes into outer space officially next week when a Russian launcher rocket lifts off with the logo of the US fast food giant emblazoned on its side, space officials said Saturday.
The Proton-K rocket is scheduled to launch on Wednesday a Russian service module to dock with the 16-nation International Space Station (ISS), the Russian space agency said.
The advertising stunt is costing Pizza Hut one million dollars, the Russian business newspaper Kommersant reported.
The 320-million dollar Zvezda service module will provide the living and working quarters for ISS crews.
The module was already atop the launcher which was scheduled to be moved Saturday to the launching pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome in the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan.
The international space station, a project which involves 16 countries including the US, Canada, Japan and Russia, will be a 100-metre (yard) long complex of more than 100 components weighing more than 450 tonnes.
The ISS currently comprises two modules -- the US-built Unity and the Russian module Zarya.
Pizza Hut is already well known to Russians. The restaurant it opened on Moscow's Gorky Street in the early days of Russia's new free market economy was a wild success.
A Russian space agency spokesman refused to confirm the million-dollar Pizza Hut figure but said the sum raised would be used to develop the Khrunichev Space Construction centre, which built the launcher.
But Kommersant reported that only 150,000 dollars would go to the Khrunichev centre, with the rest going to the Russian advertising company Planeta Zemlya (Planet Earth) and two US companies, Space Marketing Inc and Globus Space, which developed the public relations campaign.
The departure of the first US-Russian crew to live on the International Space Station is scheduled for October 30. US Commander William Shepherd and Russians Yury Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalyov will blast off on the Russian space craft Soyuz.
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