Los Angeles, CA, April 6, 2000 – At 1:30 am Eastern time today, history was made high over our heads. The first two people ever to fly in space without taxpayer funding opened the hatch on the world’s first commercial space station today. Their 45-day mission will be not as NASA astronauts, or Russian cosmonauts; they’ll be doing business in space as pure-bred capitalists.
The crew, Commander Sergei Zaletin and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri, will repair a pressure leak, resupply the Station, conduct scientific experiments and prepare the facility for its new life as a private lab and part-time hotel.
Rick Tumlinson, President of the Los Angeles-based Space Frontier Foundation, led the effort resulting in MirCorp’s creation, and congratulated the MirCorp team for opening the world’s first commercial space station. “A lot of people have been working toward this goal for the past decade,” he stated. “These folks, from the investors who laid out their own hard earned cash, to those who now have to make this a profitable business are blazing new territory for all of us. It’s a victory for private citizens everywhere.”
Mir’s interior size is larger than the combined space of ten NASA Shuttles. It was built to be expandable, and MirCorp’s plans include major growth out from the core station. MirCorp plans to sell shares to the public next year, to raise funds needed for future space missions, for renovation, and to occupy and maintain the Station. The company is also actively seeking cash from corporate sponsors.
The Foundation, declaring success in its “Keep Mir Alive” campaign, is now turning its attention back to NASA’s International Space Station. “We have privatized the former Soviet Space Station,” Tumlinson remarked. “Now it’s time to privatize our own.”