BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Chinese Vietnamese Burmese Thai Indonesian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Asia-Pacific  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 13:21 GMT
Boats refuse to leave Mir target
Destruction simulation images by Analytical Graphics, Inc
A fleet of tuna fishing boats is refusing to leave an area of the Pacific Ocean where the Russian Mir space station is set to crash on Friday.

Mir space station
Mir will come down in a fireball
Maritime safety officials have repeatedly warned the vessels to leave, but admit they have no power to force them.

The American fishermen say it has been a poor season for them and the fleet is taking a risk by staying because the tuna are biting.

Russian space officials are now making final preparations to bring Mir back to Earth following its 15-year mission.

Much of the 135-tonne space station will burn up as it comes down in a giant fireball.

But around 1,500 pieces of debris, weighing 20-40 tonnes in total, will hurtle to Earth at near-sonic speeds.

The debris is expected to come down over a wide area of the South Pacific somewhere between New Zealand and Chile.

Warning

New Zealand maritime authorities say the 30 or so fishermen still in the danger area have received repeated warnings and are fully aware of the situation.

Tuna
The fishermen don't want to give up good catches
An official in Prime Minister Helen Clark's office, said the boats appeared to be concentrated "right on the point where the Russians are aiming".

Mir, by far the largest man-made object ever brought back to Earth, is scheduled to plunge back to earth shortly before 0600 GMT on Friday.

Engineers are powering up the station's computer-controlled orientation system to stabilise its path before it begins its dramatic descent.

They have also aligned Mir's solar panels to the sun in order to recharge its batteries.

The station is currently orbiting the earth at 217km, having lost 3.4km of altitude during the last 24 hours.

Insurance

Cosmonauts and space buffs
Cosmonauts are in the South Pacific to witness history
Officials say the debris will fall away from shipping lanes and inhabited areas.

However, Moscow has taken out a $200m insurance policy in case its plans go awry.

South Pacific islands are on alert and Australia and New Zealand have drawn up contingency plans.

Airlines will also be warned of Mir's position in case flight paths need to be altered.

Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear said all flights between Chile and Tahiti were suspended for Thursday and Friday.

But 50 US and Russian space buffs and scientists are planning to take to the skies to witness Mir's descent.


Fiery descent

Background

CLICKABLE GUIDE

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

22 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
16 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
20 Mar 01 | Europe
20 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
22 Feb 01 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes