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Reuter's version of MIR story



MOSCOW, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Russia's Mir space station, which has been 
orbiting the earth empty for nearly half a year, is to continue operating 
through August with several flights planned, the head of Russia's space 
agency said on Thursday. 

Yuri Koptev told a news conference after a cabinet meeting that more 
non-government financing had been found to keep the station operating. 

``A cargo flight will take place on February 1 and a crew will follow in 
April, with a further cargo ship to go up a month later,'' Koptev said. 

He said the government had already allocated the equivalent of $120 million 
to the space programme in general but an additional $28 million was required 
to keep the station flying until August. That could come from the private 
sector. 

``Talks are going on with a company on investment,'' said Yuri Semyonov, head 
of the Energiya Rocket Company, Mir's builders. ``The first funds have 
already been received and more financing will be forthcoming if certain 
conditions are met. The money is there, but it has to be released.'' 

Energiya said this month that a U.S. firm, Golden Apple, had promised to send 
$20 million by March to continue the programme, started in 1986. Mir has been 
empty and partly shut down since August and is to be crashed into the Pacific 
Ocean unless funds are found. 
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