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Russia Says Show Me The Money

Will Mir become a discarded rich man's toy
Moscow (Interfax) Sept. 22, 2000
Mir Corp., a company collecting funds for Mir's maintenance and operation, has only enough funds for this year, company president Jeffrey Manber told Interfax on Thursday.

The orbit of the Russian space station Mir is dipping lower and will cease to be safe by February of next year, and the station urgently needs funds.

Everything is OK and everything is complicated, he said. Talks with various media companies and investment funds have proved fruitless so far, he said.

The only reliable contact is with NBC television of the U.S., which plans to send a man into space in 2002, Manber said.

The company has decided to send up a Progress-M cargo spacecraft on October 15 to deliver Mir the fuel needed to raise its orbit. According to Manber, the spacecraft and a rocket for putting it into orbit have already been paid for.

Mission Control Center experts also say that the station's position in space will become unsafe by February. Increased solar activity is requiring the safe orbit time to be continuously reduced.

Due to this, safety depends on successful launches and docking operations. Unless it is refueled and its orbit raised, the station will fall to Earth anywhere between 51 degrees of northern and southern latitude.

Manber refused to speculate on what would happen if the Progress-M mission fails. If it does, the insurance money will be used to build another spacecraft of the same kind, he said, but experts are saying that it takes 18 months to build such a spaceship and no other ones are available at the moment.

A final decision on Mir will be made in October or November, when the financing situation becomes clear, he said. "So far, no decision on a splash-down for the station has been taken," he said.

Manber noted that a conference of chief designers is to meet on October 3 to discuss the issue of whether to keep Mir in orbit. Moreover, he also added that a decision to keep the station up will only be made "if investors and money turn up."

At present, the company has pledged to conduct a trip to Mir by Dennis Tito, a U.S. tourist, scheduled for early next year. This issue is also to be discussed by chief designers. "We cannot this early on, look one year ahead - and say will we or won't we bring the Mir station back to Earth after this trip," Mir Corp. announced.

Manber said that "the most important issue for his company at present is not Mir's splash-down, but rather its continuing operation and the search for new clients."

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NBC Bets 40 Million It Can Survive Mir
Los Angeles - September 12, 2000
NBC has teamed with "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett to unveil "Destination Mir," a gravity-breaking new reality adventure drama series for the 2001-02 season, it was announced today by Garth Ancier, President, NBC Entertainment.

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