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Znamya Space Mirror Failure



Looks like the Znamya project has been killed after a failure to unfold.  It
has been discarded with the trash with the remains somewhere on the bottom
of the Pacific.  Here is a story from the A.P.

Hope they will change their minds and find a spot for another mirror!

Keith KEØFV

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      Mir's `space mirror' experiment called off after object fails to
unfold

      02/05/99 06:28:37 AM

      By Vladimir Isachenkov
      Associated Press Writer

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      MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian officials scrapped the Mir space station's
much-hyped space mirror experiment today after the shiny metal object got
stuck and failed to properly unfurl.

      The Mir crew sent the mirror, attached to a cargo ship filled with
trash, into the earth's atmosphere this afternoon. After mostly burning up
during re-entry, the husk dropped harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean,
officials said.

      The failure was a big disappointment for Russia's struggling space
agency, which had billed the project as a display of its ability to conduct
pioneering, ambitious projects despite a lack of funds.

      The mirror was supposed to work like an artificial moon, reflecting a
beam of sunlight across the earth. But its petal-like segments failed to
unfold Thursday after a deployment mechanism jammed.

      The mirror, which was to reach 83 feet in diameter when fully
extended, was attached to a Progress cargo ship and jettisoned Thursday from
the Mir. Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Avdeyev then sent a remote
command to unfold the mirror, made of a thin membrane covered with a silver
metal layer.

      The mirror started rotating, and a system of weights and strings began
to pull out the thin membranes on the flower-like structure. But the
deployment mechanism jammed and the mirror stopped spinning.

      Exasperated crew and ground controllers struggled for hours to fix the
hitch, and even got the mirror rotating again by shaking it with repeated
blasts of the cargo ship's jets -- only to see it stop a second time.

      Finally, when it became clear that the mirror would not unfurl,
Mission Control gave up on the experiment. By this afternoon, they still
didn't know exactly why the mirror failed to unfurl.

      ``The mood here is very depressed,'' said Valery Lyndin, a spokesman
for the Mission Control. ``The failure was especially painful because of
huge worldwide interest that the experiment aroused.''

      ``We have forgotten the old principle of Russian space programs -- to
do something first and boast about it only after,'' he added.

      Mission Control chief Vladimir Solovyov said another space mirror is
sitting ready on earth, but the Znamya (Banner) experiment will not be
repeated because there is no place for the object in upcoming cargo
launches.

      Russian officials did not rule out that the project would be retried
on the future 16-nation international space station. That station is
expected to be finished in 2004.

      Had the experiment gone smoothly, the mirror would have shone light on
a spot about 5 miles in diameter in a number of regions in the former Soviet
Union, Germany and the Czech Republic.

      People looking at the correct sector of the night sky would have seen
the mirror as an immobile pinpoint of light, only slightly brighter or
larger than an ordinary star, for about 15 seconds.

      Russian space experts hoped the mirror would serve as a prototype for
much larger models that could illuminate sun-starved northern cities through
the long Arctic night and spotlight disaster areas. They also dreamed of
futuristic spaceships that would glide through space using similar
structures as `sails' to catch solar wind.

      Skeptics warn that both projects would require far bigger mirrors,
which would be extremely difficult to unfold and maneuver.

      AP-CS-02-05-99 0719EST







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