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Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 17:53 GMT
Mir actor remains grounded
Mir space station
Two cosmonauts will film footage on Mir next month
A project to send a Russian actor onto the Mir space station to film part of a movie has collapsed because of lack of funds.

The joint Russo-British production team behind The Final Journey was hoping to send Vladimir Steklov, 52, up to the space station as part of a mission pencilled in for next month.

British producer John Daly and Russian director Yuri Kara had said Gary Oldman and Sean Penn were to star in the film, alongside Russian stars Mikhail Ulyanov and Leonid Korolev.

They claimed to have made an initial payment to the Russian Air and Space Agency to secure Steklov's passage onto Mir alongside cosmonauts Sergei Zaletin and Alexander Kaleri.

Vladimir Steklov
Vladimir Steklov: Will be staying on earth
But officials said they had not even been paid for Steklov's training, let alone the bill for the flight.

"Vladimir Steklov will not go to Mir as earlier planned because of the failure to meet the terms of the contract," the agency's spokesman Konstantin Kreidenko said.

Zaletin and Kaleri are expected to spend 45 days onboard Mir and will take a film camera with them.

Kreidenko said they would possibly shoot some footage for the film.

The plot tells the story of a renegade cosmonaut who refuses to leave Mir, insisting he will orbit the Earth for the rest of his days. Ground controllers send a woman into space to try to persuade him to come back.

The Russian Government had originally planned to abandon Mir this month because of the cost of keeping the station in space.

But last month an Amsterdam-based consortium, MirCorp, paid $20m (12.7m) to lease commercial rights to the station, which has been unmanned since August.

MirCorp plans to encourage space tourism to the station - at $20m a head.

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See also:

21 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Mir movie ready for lift-off
17 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir to be turned into hotel
04 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Space station at 'moment of truth'
03 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Cargo spacecraft docks with Mir
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