Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, October 11, 1999 Published at 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK


Two crews prepare for Mir mission

Mir: Floating free in orbit

Two cosmonaut crews are in training for a new mission to the Mir space station, the Russian Tass news agency reports.

One crew comprises Sergei Zaletin and Alexander Kaleri, a representative of the Energia rocket and space company which owns the commercial rights to Mir.

The back up crew has been named as Salizham Sharipov and Pavel Vinogradov. The announcement was made at a news conference organised by the charitable foundation trying to preserve the ageing orbital platform.

Mir's supporters say the complex, which weighs more than 130 tonnes, is in a good enough condition to carry on working for the next three or five years.

No money

Western space experts doubt this assessment, but even if Mir is technically sound there are insufficient funds to keep it flying. It is said Mir requires 1.2 billion roubles a year to maintain it in orbit and the Russian Government has told Energia it must find private backing if it wants the project to continue.

Mir is currently empty. Its last crew, Viktor Afanasyev, Sergei Avdeyev and Jean-Pierre Haignere, pulled out of the station at the end of August, having first shut down all but the most essential systems.

Ground controllers are expected to slowly lower Mir_s orbit over the next few months, bringing the craft close to the point of re-entry. Space analysts believe it is then, in February or March, that a manned mission may go up to prepare Mir for destruction.

The aim of such a mission would be to ensure that none of the debris that survives the intense heat of re-entry strikes populated areas.

However, those campaigning for Mir_s continued existence will be hoping enough private money might have been secured by that time to keep the platform flying.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Sci/Tech Contents

Relevant Stories

28 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Mir crew home safely

27 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Farewell to Mir

26 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Sharman remembers Mir

26 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Mir: A timeline

Internet Links

Keep Mir Alive

Maximov Mir Page

Energia Ltd

Where is Mir?

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

In this section

World's smallest transistor

Scientists join forces to study Arctic ozone

Mathematicians crack big puzzle

From Business
The growing threat of internet fraud

Who watches the pilots?

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer