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Keep Mir Alive!
U.S. Organization Suggests Moth-Balling Mir Orbital Station

Mir diagram
Washington, D.C.,
July 1, 1998 – (Itar-Tass) – The Los Angeles-based non-government organization Space Frontier Foundation announced the start of a campaign under  the motto "Preserve Mir" which is somewhat surprising even for the United  States. Speaking in a telephone interview with Itar-Tass, its president Rick Tumlinson said that the organization sets as its main goal studies and use of outer space in the interests of all mankind. It wants this time literally to save the Russian Mir station from destruction. The orbital complex is planned to be gradually pushed from its orbit by the end of 1999, and its debris are to fall in a deserted area of the World Ocean.

Space Frontier regards the Russian station "a pride of modern space science" and disagrees with opinion of those who call it "outdated." The organization believes that, despite its impressive 12-year age, Mir can be operated for more years.

In Tumlinson's opinion, the orbital complex fully proved its reliability. It houses crews who successfully work relieving one another, while some of its components were put into orbit relatively recently.

The American organization is well aware that the Russian Space Agency (RSA) is now short of funds to finance operation of the station. However, Tumlinson says there is no hurry "to bury" the station but to use "the most valuable space real estate" in a business-like way.

The organization believes that it is necessary to put Mir into a higher safe and stable orbit and to moth-ball it for several years in order to use it more actively later both for scientific and commercial aims.

Tumlinson is sure that the moth-balling of the station will not entail unsurmountable difficulties from the technical point of view, and the problem  needs only a political decision. Therefore, he sent an open letter, expressing his ideas, to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and to RSA managing director Yuri Koptev.

The Space Frontier chief claims that it is necessary to review decisions, taken by the conference of heads of space agencies of member countries participating in the ISS programme, which was held on May 31 at the Cape Canaveral cosmodrome in Florida State.

The RSA gave a promise to its foreign partners at the meeting to prepare the  Mir station for its destruction the next year.

{C:ITARTASS-0701.00142}   07/01/98
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