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The BBC's Steve Rosenberg
"At mission control there was a clear sense of relief"
 real 28k

Mir docking
The cosmonauts take manual control for the last two metres
 real 28k

Open hatch
Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri enter Mir
 real 28k

Jeffrey Manber, Mircorp president
Everything has gone well so far
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Successful docking for Mir
Hatch
Two hours after docking, the men entered Mir
Two Russian cosmonauts have successfully linked up with the Mir space station.

Their Soyuz-TM craft docked with the 14-year-old space platform just after 0730 GMT on Thursday.



It is dry, clean and rather warm here

Alexander Kaleri
Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri took over the final moments of what was mostly an automated manoeuvre. They manually steered the Soyuz capsule for the final two metres.

"Congratulations boys, you made it," mission control chief Vladimir Soloyov said as he watched the two spacecraft come together. Others in the control room applauded.

Clean and warm

Zalyotin and Kaleri opened the hatch and entered Mir two hours later.

"We are glad to welcome you from aboard the orbital station Mir," said Zalyotin in a live broadcast to Earth. "It is dry, clean and rather warm here," Kaleri said.

The cosmonauts must now reactivate the orbital complex. They will concentrate on plugging an air leak that has developed on Mir.

They also have to repair the solar panels orientation and power supply system, adjust an on-board telemetric system, as well as prepare for the arrival of a resupply cargo spacecraft.

They are expected to go on a spacewalk at some point in the future.

Commercial rights

This is the first crew to visit Mir in 223 days. The mission has only gone ahead because of money from Amsterdam-based MirCorp which has agreed to pay millions of dollars to lease commercial rights to the station.


Dock BBC
The Soyuz-TM spaceship closes on Mir
MirCorp used the moment of the docking to announce that it had found sufficient money to keep the space station in orbit until the year's end. It also revealed plans to take Mir onto the web in a big way.

"Our investors reaffirmed their commitment to Mir's commercialisation with a substantial amount of money for the second round of financing," said Jeffrey Manber, president of the MirCorp.

"This commitment will allow the new mission later this year, which will include establishing the first ever internet portal in space," he added, saying the new flight was scheduled in September.

Mir web news

MirCorp's number two, Andrew Eddy, said a Mir website with news from the space station, reports by cosmonauts and a three-dimensional tour of the space station would soon be developed.

"That will allow us to bring space closer to Earth," he said.

The company is understood to be "in negotiations with four clients, American and European," who will each pay some $30m to spend a week on Mir in the first ever case of space tourism.

MirCorp has not revealed how much money is being pumped into the platform, but the price tag for keeping Mir afloat for a year is though to be about $100m.

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See also:

04 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir rescue mission blasts off
04 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
In pictures: Return to Mir
16 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Mir actor remains grounded
17 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir to be turned into hotel
03 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Cargo spacecraft docks with Mir
16 Sep 99 | Sci/Tech
Mir: The end
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