Press Release

First Privately-funded Resupply Mission in Space Arrives at Russia’s Mir Station Today

By SpaceRef Editor
April 27, 2000
Filed under

MirCorp Decides to Keep Mir Operational for the Long-Term, Prepares for Startup of Commercial Activity on the Station

A new milestone in space
commercialization occurs today as the world’s first privately funded resupply
cargo mission arrives at an active orbital station.

The unmanned Progress M1-2 spaceship will dock with Mir at 21h30 GMT,
bringing two tons of fuel, oxygen, experiment hardware and supplies to the
space station and its two-man cosmonaut crew.

Mir has been given a new life as a commercial orbital facility by MirCorp
— the private company that holds an exclusive lease for the Russian-built and
owned station.
Russia would have been forced to allow the massive space
station to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere this year had MirCorp not
provided private financing to maintain it.

“Today’s Progress resupply mission to Mir is a truly commercial effort,”
MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber said.
“The flight was fully backed by
MirCorp and its majority shareholder — RSC Energia.
No governmental funds
were used.”

Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, a MirCorp director and investor, said MirCorp has
successfully completed its second round financing and is scheduling another
manned flight for the third quarter of this year.
“We soon will be bringing
aerospace and entertainment/media companies into MirCorp as strategic
partners,” he added.

The Progress M1-2 spacecraft’s docking today will be at a port located on
the aft end of Mir.
The station’s cosmonauts will open the spacecraft’s hatch
shortly after its arrival.

Mir has been reactivated by Russian cosmonauts Sergei Zalyotin and
Alexander Kalery, who boarded the station April 6.
They have brought the
facility’s life support and power systems up to operational status, and
repaired a small air leak originally discovered last year by the station’s
previous crew.

“We are extremely pleased by the work accomplished by Zalyotin and
Kalery,” Manber said.
“With Mir now ready to start commercial operations, we
have made a firm decision to keep the station functioning for the long-term.”

Negotiations have begun with several potential customers for commercial
activity on Mir, with international interest growing significantly since the
cosmonauts’ arrival on the station earlier this month.

Manber said MirCorp’s short-term revenue will be generated from
non-traditional uses of a space station, including media/entertainment
packages and corporate sponsorships.
MirCorp will place an Internet portal on
Mir later this year, which will be linked to the company’s Web site,
www.mirstation.com .

The second wave of business is expected to come from the more traditional
sector, including space-based research and in-orbit scientific
experimentation.
These users often are governments and institutes, which take
more time to organize a space project.

“It is clear at that our original business model is correct,” Manber said.
“The interest in Mir is real, and we’re moving to sign up our first customers
in the coming weeks.”

MirCorp has developed an affiliate program, in which companies with
expertise in a specific market or geographical region will become sales
representatives.
“We are in discussion with several companies and
organizations for MirCorp affiliate status,” Andrew Eddy, MirCorp’s Senior
Vice President-Business Development, said.
“Bringing them into the MirCorp
family will extend our marketing reach even further.”

The Holland-based MirCorp was formed earlier this year to operate as a
direct link between commercial users of Mir and the space station’s Russian
operators.

MirCorp acts as a facilitator, beginning with the establishment of
business conditions for Mir’s use, and continuing through successful
completion of a user’s activity on board the station.
The company is
60% owned by RSC Energia, while the remaining 40% held by its investors.

SpaceRef staff editor.