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Re: What is the State of MIR ?


The following press releases should help clarify the Mir status.  At least
for now.

73,  Frank Bauer, KA3HDO

Air pressure falls on Russian space station

By Tatyana Ustinova

MOSCOW, July 10 (Reuters) - Russia's ageing Mir space station has developed a 
problem which is causing air pressure to slowly drop but the three-man, 
Russian-French crew is in no immediate danger, a space official said on 

``There is no danger. The air pressure has been dropping for about two 
weeks,'' said the official, who declined to be identified. ``They are calmly 
trying to find what is causing the problem.'' 

He said the station, which has been in orbit for more than 13 years, was no 
longer hermetically sealed but that the problem should not be described as a 

``We are not treating this as an accident or an emergency, and there is no 
need for panic. They have plenty of oxygen supplies,'' the official said. 

Russians Viktor Afanasyev and Sergei Avdeyev and Frenchman Jean-Pierre 
Haignere are due to leave Mir next month and the station will be unmanned for 
up to half a year as Moscow tries to raise money to send a new crew. If the 
money is not found, they are likely to be the last crew. 

The air pressure problem is yet another headache for Mission Control, which 
is uncertain whether a cargo craft will blast off as scheduled next week to 
take to Mir a guidance system which will help prevent it crashing to earth 
while it is unmanned. 

Kazakhstan has suspended use of its Baikonur cosmodrome, which Russia rents 
and uses as its main launchpad, because a Russian rocket crashed soon after 
launch last Monday and scattered debris over a huge area of the Central Asian 

The Kazakh authorities want the damage assessed and compensation agreed 
before it lifts the ban. 

Mir has been manned for most of the time since it was launched in 1986 but it 
has suffered an increasing number of problems as it ages and was involved in 
a near-fatal collision with a cargo craft in 1997. 

The United States opposes extending Mir's life because it wants Russia to 
focus its resources on the International Space Station, in which both 
Washington and Moscow are involved. 

Mir's long history of problems includes a slight leak caused by the failure 
to close a hatch properly in November, 1997. The leak was not fixed for 
several months. 

It has also had air supply problems before. The main oxygen generators broke 
down in August, 1997, but were soon repaired. 

Space row threatens launch of Mir supply rocket

By Mike Collett-White

ALMATY, July 10 (Reuters) - A row between Russia and Kazakhstan is 
threatening next week's planned launch of vital navigation equipment to the 
ageing Mir space station. 

A Soyuz rocket is due to take up the guidance system as a precaution against 
the station crashing to Earth after the three-man crew leaves in late August. 

The row began after a Russian rocket exploded shortly after take-off from 
Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome last Monday, scattering debris over a large 

No one was hurt in the accident, but Kazakh authorities fear a highly toxic 
fuel component known as giptil may have entered the local water supply. 

They suspended further use of the cosmodrome and on Saturday a rocket loaded 
with a Russian-Ukrainian survey satellite, which should have blasted off two 
days ago, remained stuck on the launch pad. 

``There was no launch today,'' a spokesman said by telephone from Baikonur, 
Russia's main space launch base which Moscow rents from the Central Asian 
state. ``As yet I have no information as to when it will take off.'' 

Russian experts arrived in Karaganda, close to the scene of the crash, on 
Friday to help a Kazakh commission establish the reasons for the accident and 
assess the environmental damage. 

Moscow is keen to have the ban lifted as quickly as possible because only 
four days remain before the planned launch of the navigation equipment to 

Mir itself has developed a problem that is making air pressure fall slowly 
but a space official said on Saturday the two Russians and one Frenchman 
aboard were in no immediate danger. 

Anatoly Nedaivoda, deputy director of Russia's Khrunichev Space Centre, said 
on Friday that six tonnes of giptil could have crashed on to the remote 
Kazakh steppe but it was unlikely the fuel had fallen into a lake and 
contaminated the water. 

He and other Russian officials played down the dispute, saying the space 
programme would soon be back on track. 

Kazakhstan is sensitive about any suggestion that it is being bullied into 
lifting the suspension by its mighty northern neighbour. It has also 
complained Moscow has been nonchalant towards the crash and possible 
environmental damage. 

Baikonur, part of the Soviet Union before its collapse in 1991, is vital to 
Russia's space programme as well as to the $60 billion International Space 
Station project due to be launched in November. 

Nedaivoda said he did not believe the November launch would be postponed as a 
result of the row. 

Russia owes Kazakhstan over $300 million in rent arrears and has agreed to 
pay $115 million annually for the use of Baikonur. 

Russia Says Mir May Be Evacuated

.c The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia warned Kazakstan that the three crew members aboard the 
Mir space station may have to come home early if a ban on launches from the 
Baikonur Cosmodrome is not lifted, a news report said today. 

If Russia isn't able to launch a Progress cargo ship on July 14, ``the crew 
of the Mir orbital station ... will have to be evacuated,'' Russian First 
Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said in a telegram to Kazak Prime 
Minister Nurlan Balgimbayev, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. 

According to Russian media, the Mir's crew - cosmonauts Viktor Afanasyev, 
Sergei Avdeyev and French astronaut Jean-Pierre Heignere - will have to leave 
the station July 17 if they don't get fresh supplies of food and equipment. 

Space officials warned that the ban may also disrupt plans to gradually lower 
the Mir's orbit and let remains of the station fall into the ocean. Russia 
planned to leave the Mir unmanned in August, and discard it early next year. 

``If that equipment isn't delivered at a certain time, the crew obviously 
won't be able to install it ... the procedure of lowering the station's orbit 
will be broken,'' Russian space agency spokesman Sergei Gorbunov was quoted 
as saying by ITAR-Tass. 

He insisted that the station won't come crashing down to Earth, but said 
Kazakstan's ban would make it much more difficult to ensure a safe return. 

Kazakstan abruptly banned all launches from Baikonur on Tuesday after a 
Proton booster rocket carrying a Russian Defense Ministry satellite exploded 
shortly after takeoff Monday. 

Kazakstan said the explosion showered central Kazakstan with toxic rocket 
fuel. It shut down the launch site until a commission figures out the extent 
of the damage and determines whether other launches will be ecologically 

Russia leases the cosmodrome for cargo flights to the Mir space station and 
commercial and military satellite launches. 

Russia has argued that launches of other types of booster rockets should be 
allowed to go ahead because they don't use the same highly-toxic fuel as the 
Proton booster rocket. 

If Kazakstan agrees, Russia would be able to send up the cargo ship, which 
will use a Soyuz rocket. It would also be able to launch a weather satellite 
aboard a Zenit rocket whose liftoff was set for Thursday but has been pushed 
back because of the ban. 

But Kazak Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Pavlov, who is heading the 
investigation, criticized Russia during a news conference for failing to pay 
its debts for renting Baikonur, and demanded that Moscow at least pay damages 
for the crash. 

Khristenko, the Russian deputy premier, told the Echo of Moscow radio station 
that damages will be paid, and expressed hope the dispute would be resolved 

At 11:23 PM 7/10/99 +1200, Phillip Conza wrote:
 >Reported on NZ TV 3 last night :
 >Mir was suffering from some sort of pressure leakage problem and it appears 
 >that the crew have moved back into the main module ..
 >Has anyone confirmation of this ..
 >73 Phillip ZL2TZE
 >Phillip Conza
 >AX25                    ZL2TZE @ ZL2TZE.#73.MLB.NZL.OC
 >E-Mail private          phil@zl2tze.mlb.planet.gen.nz
 >Packet Mail Forwarding  pmail@zl2tze.mlb.planet.gen.nz
 >Via the sarex mailing list at AMSAT.ORG courtesy of AMSAT-NA.
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