Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2000
Korolov, Russia - MirCorp's board of directors today approved the permanently-manned operation of Mir beginning next year, marking a major milestone in the company's plan to use this unique facility as the world's first true commercial orbital space station.
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. Citizen Explorer Dennis Tito will be part of a crew exchange between the two manned missions at mid-year 2001, and he is to spend approximately 10 days aboard the station.
MirCorp's decision was taken in a unanimous vote of its full board of directors during a regularly scheduled meeting led by Chairman Yuri P. Semenov. Also attending the meeting in the city of Korolov near Moscow were Vice Chairman Walt Anderson and board members Valeri Ryumin, Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria and Alexander Derechin.
"The board's historic decision allows MirCorp to enter into final negotiations with the many potential clients who have been awaiting our establishment of a long-term flight schedule," MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber said. "These potential clients involve a mix of aerospace companies, financial services, media outlets and providers of consumer goods."
MirCorp's mission manifest begins with the launch this fall of a Progress unmanned resupply spacecraft that will bring 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 saved the station from a destructive reentry earlier this year.
Mir currently is unmanned following the successful MirCorp-funded mission of two cosmonauts earlier this year. The 73-day mission, which ended June 16, marked the world's first commercial flight to renovate a manned space station ñ 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.
The Holland-based MirCorp was formed earlier this year to operate as a direct link between commercial users of Mir and the space station's Russian operators. In February, MirCorp signed a first-of-its kind commercial lease agreement for Mir with RSC Energia, the Russian space systems manufacturer that built and operates the space station.
MirCorp acts as a commercial facilitator, beginning with the establishment of business conditions for Mir's use, and continuing through successful completion of a user's activity on board the station. MirCorp is 60% owned by RSC Energia, while the remaining 40% held by its investors.
Editors' note: Citizen Explorer Dennis Tito is a former U.S. space program engineer who founded Wilshire Associates the Santa Monica, California-based company that revolutionized the field of investment management consulting. MirCorp's Citizen Explorer program will provide the first truly commercial manned flight opportunities for private citizens.
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