Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Another Progress cargo ship to fly to space station Mir
Posted: September 23, 2000

A file image of a Progress supply freighter docked to the international space station just like the one set for launch to Mir. Photo: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now
MirCorp has funded the launch of a new Progress unmanned cargo spacecraft to Russia's Mir, ensuring the space station will remain operational for continued commercial use.

The funding agreement was reached this week during a meeting of MirCorp and RSC Energia in Moscow, and the Progress is now being readied for a mid-October launch from Baikonur, Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

This will be the third time MirCorp has arranged for the private funding of a resupply mission to Mir -- extending its life as a commercial orbital facility. The new Progress will bring fuel, air and power to Mir, allowing the large station to be fully controlled and operated in Earth orbit.

"MirCorp has once again met its commitment of maintaining Mir in operational status so this one-of-a-kind facility remains open for business," MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber said.

Since signing a landmark agreement last February to lease Mir, MirCorp has financed a 73-day mission of two cosmonauts that reactivated the station and it funded the two Progress cargo missions for resupply of the facility.

MirCorp currently is establishing its manned flight schedule for 2001 and beyond, with several missions now in the planning stage. They include the launch of Dennis Tito, MirCorp's first Citizen Explorer, as well as the flight of a winner from the "Destination Mir" reality series from NBC and "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett.

Dennis Tito completed the second two-week training cycle today at Russia's Star City cosmonaut base near Moscow, and his historic Citizen Explorer mission remains on schedule for 2001.

The NBC "Destination Mir" series -- in which a diverse cast of at least a dozen American civilians will train for the mission at Star City -- will end with one person selected for the flight to Mir. "Destination Mir" will run during the 2001-02 season.

As commercial interest in Mir grows, MirCorp's two primary investors -- Walt Anderson and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria -- confirmed their commitment to financing the station's continued operations.

"Walt and I are more convinced than ever of the long-term business prospects for Mir, and we will continue to fund MirCorp's operations," Dr. Kathuria said. "The Dennis Tito and 'Destination Mir' missions are just the beginning of commercial uses that we have identified in our broad-based business plan."

MirCorp acts as a commercial facilitator, beginning with the establishment of business conditions for Mir's use, and continuing through successful completion of a user's activity on board the station.

The company signed an exclusive lease agreement for Mir with RSC Energia -- the Russian enterprise that built and operates the station. A pioneer in space technology, RSC Energia is one of the oldest and most-respected space companies. It launched Sputnik, sent the first man into orbit, built the Mir space station and today is a lead contractor for the International Space Station.