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Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Mir company looks to the future
Flotation: MirCorp is aiming to raise $500m
The company funding the latest mission to the Mir space station says it is already planning the next two flights to the Russian orbital platform.

MirCorp wants another crew on the station in the autumn and a third in orbit in the first quarter of 2001

The re-opening and saving of Mir captured the attention and enthusiasm of the entire world

MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber
The big question, as ever, is funding, but MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber claims the cash necessary to finance the next mission is almost in place.

"We showed the world a new path into space," Mr Manber said in a statement. "Now it is time to build on our success."

The current two-month mission, due to end in mid-June, has seen cosmonauts Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri repair all the vital systems on Mir, replace batteries and stem the major air leak that threatened the future of the whole project.

Modernisaton programme

"We have achieved all the technical milestones planned for this crew's mission onboard the station," the MirCorp president said.

Bed space: Accommodation is basic
"Working with our colleagues in Moscow, we have proven how robust this station is, and demonstrated that the re-opening and saving of Mir captured the attention and enthusiasm of the entire world."

The next mission would begin the process of modernising Mir, supplying it with the equipment necessary for putting the station on the internet

The Dutch-based corporation may now place its securities on stock markets next year in a bid to collect $300-500m, Mr Manber told The New York Times. Up to $200m from that sum could help the development of Russia's space industry, he said.

International project

The extended service of Mir continues to be an irritation to American space officials who believe the ageing station is diverting Russian energy and resources away from the International Space Station (ISS).

Astronauts with the shuttle Atlantis are currently on an emergency repair mission to the ISS lifting the space laboratory into a higher orbit - a task that would have been unnecessary had the Russians launched the Zvezda service module on time.

This module should now go up on 12 July to provide the living quarters for the station's first inhabitants.

American Commander William Shepherd and Russians Yury Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalov have been visiting the Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow to look over their future home.

"They are getting acquainted with what they will have to come across in space. They will have to live and work in this module," said Vyacheslav Mikhailichenko, a senior spokesman for the Russian space agency.

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See also:

12 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir spacewalk tests new glue
26 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir takes on new supplies
13 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
More money triggers Mir confusion
04 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
In pictures: Return to Mir
17 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir to be turned into hotel
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