Rising cash toll may bring Mir down to earth
Thursday 21 August 1997
As the three astronauts on board the orbiting station prepared for a spacewalk tomorrow to restore power and make repairs, Vladimir Petrov, first deputy finance minister said: "The task is pressing. We must remove Mir from orbit. This will be done next year." He added, "You see, there have already been a series of breakdowns, one failure, another failure."
However, Valery Ryumin, who heads Russia's co-operation on Mir with the United States' space agency, Nasa, said: "A bureaucrat [Petrov] can say whatever nonsense he wants. I don't even want to hear this nonsense."
Mr Petrov's comments were made to reporters on Tuesday for release last night, to coincide with a government discussion of the 1998 budget, which will be sent to the Russian parliament by next Tuesday. That leaves the distinct possibility that the comments were part of a bargaining plan to try to reduce spending.
Exact figures on Mir's operating costs are not available, and observers say Russian military control of some aspects of the programme make it hard to calculate.
But Mir does earn valuable foreign currency: the US agreed to pay Russia $478m (pounds 300m), mostly for Mir-related activities, under a December 1993 agreement to last until 1998. The European Space Agency (ESA) paid $50m for two joint missions involving Mir in 1994 and 1995.
Russian space officials have said they intend to keep Mir in orbit at least until 2000, and Russian policymakers have not previously advocated its retirement.
If and when it is abandoned, it will eventually fall to earth. Though most of it should burn up in the atmosphere, large pieces are expected to survive.
Mir, launched in 1986, is the last element left from the Soviet space programme.
On 25 June, the station experienced the worst accident in its history when a supply ship collided with it, depressurising one of the six modules. It has suffered a series of smaller failures in recent weeks.
Russia is participating in the creation of an international space station, the first segment of which is scheduled for a June 1998 launch.
Yesterday afternoon, ground control said everything on Mir was fine: the station had regained its precise alignment with the Sun, recharged its solar batteries and switched on its main oxygen generator.
n A teenage Irish radio ham yesterday made contact with Michael Foale, the British-born astronaut on board Mir. Revere Richardson, 19, from Kilkenny, said Mr Foale was in "very, very good humour indeed" and showing no sign of strain. He spoke to the space station on a VHF link from his "radio shack-stroke-bedroom" as it passed over Ireland.
- 1 Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
- 2 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 3 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Edgar Froese dead: Tangerine Dream founder dies aged 70
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...