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Wednesday, 4 October, 2000, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Financiers confident of Mir future
Mir Nasa
Mir has been in orbit for 14 years
Russian space scientists have denied reports that the Mir orbital station could be steered into a fiery grave over the Pacific Ocean as early as next February.

The Russian news agency Interfax reported that experts had voted to end the life of the ageing space station, subject to approval by the Russian Government.

But a representative of the Energia Aerospace Corporation, which owns Mir, told the Tass news agency that Mir could theoretically continue work for several years.

And MirCorp, the international group that has the commercial rights to exploit the station's business potential, said it was pressing ahead with its plans to fund further flights to the platform in the new year.

A third MirCorp-financed supply launch to the station planned for 16 October will go ahead whatever happens, said Tass. It will deliver a stock of fuel to keep the station in orbit.

Space tourist

MirCorp, aware of the conflicting statements circulating about the future of the station, issued its own assessment on Tuesday of the current status of the Mir programme.

MirCorp's two primary investors, Walt Anderson and Dr Chirinjeev Kathuria, reiterated their commitment to financing the station's continued operations.

"The long-term business prospects for Mir are extremely positive, and both Walt and I will continue to fund MirCorp's operations," Dr Kathuria said.

Dennis Tito, MirCorp's first space tourist, is currently in training for a trip to Mir, and a deal has been signed with NBC television in the US which will lead to the winner of a TV quiz show also flying to the space platform.

Mir has been operating in space for over 14 years. Until private funding was secured, it had been planned to allow the space station to burn-up in the Earth's atmosphere this year.

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See also:

26 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir takes on new supplies
20 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir 'tourist' dreams of space
13 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
More money triggers Mir confusion
06 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Successful docking for Mir
04 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
In pictures: Return to Mir
04 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Mir rescue mission blasts off
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