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Updated MIR story





 Russia to Go on With Mir, Launch Space Module

                     By Svetlana Kovalyova

                     MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia pledged Thursday to
proceed
                     with two major space programs, its own Mir station
and a
                     service module for the International Space Station,
but said more
                     funds were needed to get on with the jobs.

 Mir has been orbiting the Earth for 14 years instead of the originally
planned three, but has
 flown empty for nearly half a year. The head of Russia's space agency
said it would continue
 operating through August with several flights planned.

 ``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,'' Yuri Koptev told a reporters after
a government
 meeting.

 Koptev also said the delayed launch of the Russian-built living
quarters for the ISS would
 take place at the end of July.

 ``It is planned to launch the service module at the end of July and
launch three ships (to the
 ISS) by the end of this year, one manned ship and two cargo ships,'' he
said.

 Koptev said 3.4 billion roubles (about $120 million) had been budgeted
for Russia's space
 programs in 2000 in general, including about 1.2 billion roubles for
the service module.

 However, these funds were not enough to complete the work and Russia
needed help from
 foreign and domestic investors.

 He said 750 million roubles was required to keep the station flying
until August and that
 could come from the private sector.

 ``Talks are going on with a company on investment,'' Yuri Semyonov,
head of the Energiya
 Rocket Company, Mir's builders, told reporters.

 ``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,''
Semyonov said, adding
 that Russia was talking to various potential investors.

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

 Koptev played down U.S. concerns that maintaining Mir would siphon
funds from the ISS.
 ``Our task is to explain to our colleagues that there will be no direct
damage,'' he said.

 Mir Gives Russia Experience In Manned Flight

 Russia's experience with Mir has given it unrivalled expertise in
long-term manned space
 flight, which it is using to build the Zvezda (Star) service module,
living quarters of the $60
 billion ISS.

 Unmanned pieces of the new station have orbited the earth since
December 1998, waiting
 for Moscow to complete its share so flight crews can start their
missions. The station is
 being built jointly by the United States, Russia, the European Space
Agency, Canada and
 Japan.

 Joint Russian-American crews have already trained on the module at
Russia's space base in
 Baikonur, Kazakhstan, but funding problems have held up its completion
and several
 previous launch dates have come and gone.

 Koptev said the governments of Russia and Kazakhstan had signed an
agreement which
 limits a Kazakh ban on launches to those rockets which have a record of
failures. That
 would allow Russia to carry out other launches.

 ``This agreement has allowed us to launch Soyuz, Cyclone and Zenit
rockets,'' he said.
 Russia, he said, planned new launches, including a Proton mission in
late February.

 Two Proton rockets crashed on Kazakh territory last year after taking
off from Baikonur,
 the main space launch base for Russia, crucial for both the national
programs and the ISS.

 ($ - 28.51 roubles)

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