Posted: Friday, June 16, 2000
The world's first commercial mission to renovate a manned space station and open it for commercial operations ended successfully today with the soft landing of two Russian cosmonauts in Kazakhstan.
Mission commander Sergei Zalyotin and flight engineer Alexander Kalery emerged from their Soyuz TM-30 transport spacecraft after touching down on the Kazakh steppe at 00:44 GMT (8:44 PM EDT June 15).
Their recovery by a specialized ground crew marked the end to a long-duration flight sponsored by MirCorp that revived the station, making it ready for follow-on commercial missions.
"Working in partnership with our Russian colleagues, we have demonstrated the viability of MirCorp's business model," MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber said. "We are excited about the commercial prospects for this extremely capable space station."
Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, one of MirCorp's major investors, declared the station ready for long-term operation as a commercial space platform. "The successful conclusion of this flight is one of MirCorp's most significant milestones to date," he said. "The cosmonauts confirmed that Mir is in good working order, and they demonstrated the value of Mir to the world's business community. We now are preparing the groundwork for upcoming missions to the station."
Highlights of the MirCorp sponsored flight with Zalyotin and Kalery included:
-- The first privately sponsored extravehicular
activity (EVA, or spacewalk); The May 12 spacewalk included a
pioneering test of future techniques to repair space stations.
-- The renovation of Mir; including repairing a small air leak detected during a previous mission and the implementation of a system to downlink digital images and content.
-- The first resupply of a space station using missions financed by the private sector; Two such flights with unmanned Progress cargo spacecraft were carried out; one on February 3 (prior to the cosmonauts' arrival on board Mir), and the other on April 27, which occurred during the crew's third week on the station.
Cosmonauts Zalyotin and Kalery spent a total of 73 days aboard Mir, orbiting the Earth 1,100 times while working on the station.
The Holland-based MirCorp was formed earlier this year to develop commercial operations on Mir. The company acts as a 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; the manufacturer and operator of Mir; while the remaining 40% held by its financial investors.
For further information, see MirCorp's Website: http://www.mirstation.com/.
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