Spaceflight Now: Space Station Mir

Russian government official signs off on Mir deorbiting

Posted: January 7, 2001

Mir silently glides through space high above the planet. Photo: NASA
Space station Mir's destruction upon burning up during re-entry seems even more certain with the announcement by a Russian Space Agency spokesperson that the Russian Prime Minister has signed an order mandating the deorbiting late next month.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed the document on December 30, but a formal announcement by the Russian Space Agency -- Rosaviacosmos -- did not come until Friday.

The initial ruling to bring Mir down to Earth came late last year. Since then, when most space experts remained skeptical of Russia's intentions, more and more indications of the seriousness of their scheme have arisen.

With now less than two months remaining until the scheduled de-orbit date in late February, Russia is planning to launch a Progress fuel tanker to Mir on January 18 to supposedly aid in the orbit changes leading up to a de-orbit, and possibly the final re-entry burn itself.

Mir's February date with destruction comes just days after its 15th anniversary in orbit. Its core module was launched in February 1986.