Los Angeles, CA, April 4, 2000 Today's history-making flight of the first people to fly into space without government funding is just the beginning. Very early this Thursday, at 1:30 am Eastern time, they will dock with the Mir Space Station and open the hatch on the world's first commercial space station. Their 45-day mission will be not as NASA astronauts, or Russian government cosmonauts; they'll be doing business in space as employees of the private firm, MirCorp, which has leased the facility from Russia and plans to refurbish it and use it as a base to build a larger station.
Rick Tumlinson, President of the Los Angeles-based Space Frontier Foundation, laid the groundwork for what he hopes will become the first of many businesses ventures in space. He and the Foundation congratulated MirCorp for taking such a large risk. "We are proud of the work our members did, and continue doing, to open the Space Frontier," he remarked. "And we honor the team that has put so much money and hard work on the line to make this possible."
Tumlinson first called for re-using Mir in 1991, in an article in the Los Angeles Times. The idea grew, and in 1994 re-use of facilities like Mir figured prominently in the his testimony before Congress titled "Alpha Town." In 1997 Foundationer David Anderman began their "Keep Mir Alive" campaign. In 1999 Tumlinson traveled to Moscow, signed the first protocols leading to the development of MirCorp, and later introduced financier Walt Anderson to the RKK Energia company. The rest, as they say, is history.