Fwd = Mir to resemble UFO over UK
- Forwarded by: fwestra@...
Original Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 20:42:51 +0100 (CET)
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Mir to resemble UFO over UK
Mir will appear in the night sky each night until January 9 when its
orbit passes over Britain.
Russian space station Mir is to become one of the brightest objects in
the night sky when it passes over Britain. Experts believe some
observers could be fooled into thinking that it is a UFO.
If the weather is clear, the space station should be visible for a few
minutes between 5pm and 6pm each night until January 9, as its orbit
passes over Britain.
Mir hit the headlines over Christmas when it was feared that the space
station could crash back to earth after controllers lost radio contact
with the craft.
There were worries that it could cause damage if it landed in densely
populated parts of the world.
It was the most recent in a series of set-backs for the ageing Russian
It was hit by a terrifying fire and near disastrous collision with an
unmanned cargo ship in 1997 followed by a series of computer glitches
The craft is currently unmanned, but had cosmonauts on board almost
continuously until August 1999, when it was abandoned.
The Mir only had one 73-day manned mission last year and the crew
returned safely in June raising official optimism about the prospects
of keeping it in orbit without a crew.
When Mir was launched on February 20, 1986, it was the epitome of
achievement for the Soviet Union.
However, following the collapse of communism, the project became an
increasing financial burden on Russia's economy.
With NASA and other foreign space agencies concentrating on the new
International Space Station, the end of Mir seemed inevitable.
The Russian Cabinet approved a plan to crash the Mir into the Pacific
900 to 1,200 miles east of Australia on February 27-28.
The decision followed failed attempts to find private investors to
keep the station operative.
Mir space station
Mir was launched in February 1986 and five modules have been added to
the base unit since then.
Mir has made more than 60,000 trips around the Earth.
It has played host to 28 long expeditions, 16 shorter ones, and a
total of 23,000 scientific experiments, according to the Russians.
The 130-tonne spacestation ranks as one of the great feats of the
space age, especially as it was only planned as a three-year project.
Cosmonauts set records for living in space with Valeri Polyakov
staying aloft for 439 days.
Special treadmill exercises and diets were designed to stop muscles
The station has been almost permanently occupied, apart from a few
months in 1989, until August 1999, when it was abandoned.
The decrepit station - dubbed Spaceship Lada - has suffered mishaps
including a collision with a robot cargo Progress spacecraft in 1997,
a power loss and computer problems.
British-born Dr Michael Foale was the fifth of seven Americans who
lived on Mir to help NASA gain experience for the future International
Russia agreed to scrap the craft in return for joint participation
with the Americans in the International Space Station.
The plan for Mir's final journey, announced on November 16, 2000, was
to crash land it into the Pacific Ocean, 1,000 miles off Australia
during February 2001.
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