Posted: Tuesday, October 3, 2000
MirCorp is appreciative of Russia's approval today for the launch of a new resupply spacecraft to the Mir station, and for their determination that Mir remains ready to continue commercial operations in orbit.
At a meeting in Moscow, the Council of Chief Designers authorized the October 16 launch of a Progress unmanned cargo spacecraft to bring fuel and other supplies to the Mir station.
One role for the Progress will be to boost the orbit of Mir, which has been losing altitude due to the current solar flare activity - which has been affecting all spacecraft in orbit. Increasing Mir's altitude will ensure the station remains in an orbit guaranteeing its long-term availability as a commercial space platform.
MirCorp is aware of conflicting statements made today on Mir's future by a Russian official who was on travel outside of the country, and MirCorp plans to fully brief Russia's senior government personnel on its plans for Mir's continued commercial use.
With commercial interest in Mir continuing to increase, MirCorp's two primary investors - Walt Anderson and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria - reiterated their commitment to financing the station's continued operations.
"The long-term business prospects for Mir are extremely positive, and both Walt and I will continue to fund MirCorp's operations," Dr. Kathuria said.
MirCorp is preparing its manned flight schedule for 2001 and beyond, with several missions now being organized. They include the launch of Dennis Tito, MirCorp's first Citizen Explorer, as well as the flight of a winner from the "Destination Mir" reality series from NBC and "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett.
Dennis Tito has completed the second two-week training cycle at Russia's Star City cosmonaut base near Moscow, and his historic Citizen Explorer mission is scheduled for 2001.
The NBC "Destination Mir" series - in which a diverse cast of at least a dozen American civilians will train for the mission at Star City - will end with one person selected for the flight to Mir. "Destination Mir" will run during the 2001-02 season.
MirCorp has leased the resources of the Mir space station from RSC Energia. The company 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. The company is unique in that it performs its space activities without any government money.
MirCorp signed an exclusive lease agreement for Mir with RSC Energia - the Russian enterprise that built and operates the station. A pioneer in space technology, RSC Energia is one of the oldest and most respected space companies. It launched Sputnik, sent the first man into orbit, built the Mir space station and today is a lead contractor for the International Space Station.
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