Save the mir

Rubland is desperately looking for ways to keep the national symbol in space

How to proceed with the 13-year-old MIR is still not entirely decided. The station has become a national symbol that bears witness to the technical achievements that were possible in the days of the Soviet Union. But now there is no more money for further operation – and the station has long been dependent on foreign funds. The Russian participation in the International Space Station also keeps stuttering and causing delays due to financial difficulties. However, from a nationalist point of view, the International Space Station is just not as good as the MIR to occupy (difficulties of the Russians with the ISS).

Until the end of August, the last crew for the time being stayed on the now obsolete and storanfalligen MIR. Then Viktor Afanasyev, Sergei Avdeyev and Jean-Pierre Haignere leave the station and switch over to automatic operation. Next year it will be scrapped by dropping it to the ground.

But the amption of the national symbol was postponed preferably still a little bit. But where should the money come from? 250 million dollars are necessary to keep the MIR operational for another year in space. Recently, however, a glimmer of hope appeared, after the search for sponsors had so far been in vain. A British businessman in the matter of gauze utilization – what a symbolic encounter! – offered to fly on the MIR in exchange for 100 million dollars. He was already in the Russian training camp, but then it turned out that he was not only too fat, but also a man who is known for his dark business. So the weekend trip came to nothing – and the willing rescuer didn’t even pay for his stay in the training camp.

So if it’s nothing with sponsors and rich people, Russian citizens could contribute to the preservation of their national symbol through donations, some former astronauts thought, and set up a donation account. But whether this will ensure the survival of the aged ME is more than questionable, after all, a third of Russians already live below the poverty line because of the economic crisis and many do not receive their wages.



But there are other plans. Vitaly Sevastyanov, former astronaut and communist deputy, wants to preserve the Rubland symbol in space through privatization. Shares in the station are to be sold to foreign governments, but the management is to remain in Russian hands. But this does not seem very realistic. The other plan is that after the parliamentary elections at the end of the year a nationalistic government will come to power, which will raise the money for the maintenance of the MIR.

In any case, with the return of the crew now in the MIR, they do not want to draw a line yet. In December, according to Yuri Semyonov of the Russian Space Agency, another crew will go to the station to restore it for future missions or, if no money is raised by then, to prepare it for the final crash later next year. If the mission was to be carried out at all, the crew could run into difficulties. For several months the MIR would be left to its own devices. However, the control systems of the old station often fail and throw it off track. Astronauts on board then had to realign them and fix the computer errors. If, for example, the solar sails are no longer properly positioned, there is a lack of energy. If the station floats alone around the earth for a long time, errors are to be expected, which may prevent the next crew from entering it.

But problems could also arise during the scrapping process. The MIR weighs over 100 tons and did not burn up completely when it entered the Earth’s atmosphere. If the station cannot be precisely controlled from Earth, there is a danger that it will not crash in the Pacific as planned, but possibly over inhabited places. We can only hope that the Russians will aim more accurately than NATO and will not hit any embassy