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Lack Of Funding Could De-Orbit Mir
Moscow (AFP) April 26, 2000 - Russia may be forced to destroy the Mir space station in October if it does not find funding for the orbiter by this summer, Russian Space Agency director Yury Koptev said Wednesday.

"Mir will remain in orbit until August. If we don't find funding, its flight will end in October," Koptev told reporters.

Koptev said that talks on new financing were in progress, and that the agency had a few funding possibilities.

Energuia, the company responsible for Mir's technical upkeep, and MirCorp, a private Russian-US company responsible for its marketing, signed a financing agreement on April 6 for the second half of the year, vowing to find the necessary funds.

But the Russian Space Agency is skeptical about MirCorp's funding plans, especially a proposal to use the 14-year-old station as a "space tourist" destination, allowing a privileged few to spend a week in orbit at a price of 30 million dollars (32.6 million euros).

Agency spokesman Sergei Gorbunov recently expressed doubt about the tourism initiative.

"I strongly doubt that there will be volunteers to go into space for 30 million dollars. Mir is not a luxury hotel, living conditions are difficult there," Gorbunov told AFP, noting that the United States already has rejected plans to promote space tourism.

Mir had been due to come down to Earth last summer because Russia was unable to fund both Mir and its share of work on the multi-billion dollar International Space Station (ISS) project.

The space station was the pride of the Soviet space programme when launched in 1986 but has been plagued with technical problems.

However, Energuia officials say it is still capable of functioning for two or three more years.

  • MirCorp

     Mir To See Progress With New Supply Shipment
    Moscow (AFP) April 26, 2000 - Russia successfully launched a supply cargo ship early Wednesday bound for the Mir space station, the flight control centre in Moscow reported.

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