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BBC on Mir



Here's the BBC version of the MIR Re-Supply story.

The Kazakhstan government will allow a vital flight to the Mir space station 
to take off from its Baikonur launch pad on 16 July, said government 
spokesman Sergei Sivun. 

The agreement with Russia ends the ban on launches imposed by Kazakhstan 
after a Proton booster rocket carrying a Russian military satellite exploded 
shortly after lift-off last week.  Proton debris rained on Kazakhstan. 

Russia owes $150m for leasing the launch pad from the former Soviet republic. 
A Russian delegation, led by Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, agreed to 
pay $50m in cash by November and $65m in goods by next year. 

The rocket explosion led to widespread dispersal of toxic rocket fuel and a 
part of the rocket fell into a woman's backyard, several hundred kilometres 
away. 

The Kazakh authorities then made a number of demands: 

•Payment of the rent owed •An detailed enquiry into the rocket explosion 
•Compensation for environmental and infrastructure damage 

However, the Russian media have said the ban was imposed solely to force 
Russia to pay its debt. 

The flight to Mir is needed to deliver food and water to the three cosmonauts 
on board. It will also bring equipment essential for maintaining control of 
the space station when the cosmonauts leave and the station is mothballed in 
August. 

The plan is that Mir will eventually fall to Earth, burning up in the 
atmosphere. But the Russian Space Agency had warned that without the new 
equipment Mir could shower the Earth with debris. 

"We must not allow the Mir space station to fly out of control," said the 
head of the Russian Space Agency, Yuri Koptev. 

"The chances of being hit over the head by bits of the space station are 
equal for all, whether you are Russian or Kazakh, or indeed from any other 
country falling within a 51 degree radius either side of Mir." 

The supply flight was due to lift-off on Wednesday. The Russians said 20 July 
was the last date possible for the launch - after that Mir moves to a new 
orbit, making it very difficult to reach the space station. 

The latest launch failure is of concern to the nations involved in the 
International Space Station because the next phase of the project is due to 
be launched on board a Proton vehicle in November. 

  BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | © 

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