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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 00:39 GMT
Respite for Mir?

Russian space officials say they've found the money necessary to keep the ageing Mir space station operable for several more months.

Mir has been orbiting the Earth with nobody on board since August, and there were plans to crash it into the Pacific because of its advanced age and lack of funds.

But now the Russian rocket builders, Energiya, say they have a pledge from an American firm Golden Apple to inject twenty million dollars into the programme.

Energiya say that once the Russian Space Agency and government give their consent, the way will be open for sending up a crew for a mission beginning in March. Mir was launched in 1986 and has stayed in orbit long past its original five-year lifespan; over the past few years it has been plagued by problems.

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