translated and reprinted with permission
Moscow, June 26, 1998 – (Itar-Tass) – Leaders of several Russian companies in the space sector on Friday signed an address to Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko. Yuri Semyonov, president of the Rocket Corporation Energiya, which owns the Mir station, told Itar-Tass that space executives in their address “outlined the whole critical situation” with Mir. He did not elaborate, only saying that “it is the government who must take care of the state’s space programme.”
Semyonov said a “broad attendance council of chief designers” is planned for the next week for generating a detailed programme of Mir’s future. He said he hoped Kiriyenko would respond to the letter of space sector leaders before the meeting.
Russian cosmonauts are as concerned over the situation of the space sector amid the financial crisis.
Alexander Serebrov, one of the most experienced cosmonauts, told Itar-Tass that “to sink such a station (in the ocean in late 1999) is a sin. If this happens, not only Russia but the whole world will be left without space research within the nearest six-seven years before the International Space Station begins to operate.”
The Russian Space Agency (RSA) is looking for a “nonstandard solution” to find non-budgetary funds to finance the Mir orbiting station, RSA director general Yuri Koptev said in an interview with Itar-Tass on Friday. “We understand the situation the government is in, so there is no hope for the budget,” he said. He said “regrettably, the problem of attracting other sources of financing could not be solved so far.”
Koptev said the situation around Mir is “tense and extremely complicated”. If no money is found, “a situation will arise where in August we shall have to take the crew from Mir and close the station,” Koptev said. “We are pressed for time as the spaceship with the cosmonauts should return to the ground not later than on August 25 (the Soyuz TM spacecraft has a 200-day service life since its launch on January 29),” Koptev said.
If normal work on the Mir station is to continue, another crew should be launched to the station 11-12 days before August 25, but that is only possible if “we are confident that we can ensure the flight” by launching cargo ships and other logistics which cannot be done without money.
Mir’s current crew are cosmonauts Talgat Musabayev and Nikolai Budarin. The launch of the next crew, Gennady Padalka, Sergei Avdeyev and Yuri Baturin is scheduled for August 3. Koptev said their “ship is being readied for the mission.”
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