Press Release

Lloyd’s of London insurance market experts available for comment on Mir space station

By SpaceRef Editor
March 21, 2001
Filed under ,

Lloyd’s of London insurance market experts — brokers and underwriters — are available to comment on risk and insurance issues relating to the de-orbiting of the Mir space station, currently scheduled for Friday 23 March 2001.

Background: After 15 years in space, the Russian space authorities are
due to de-orbit the 130 tonnes Mir space station this
week. The only other comparable event was the destruction
of the US space station Skylab which crashed into the
Australian outback in 1978.

The de-orbiting process will cause Mir to re-enter the
Earth’s atmosphere and fall into the southern Pacific
Ocean midway between New Zealand and Chile. During the 6-8
minutes it will take Mir to reach sea level, the heat and
buffeting of re-entry will reduce the space station
to approximately 1,500 fragments — the largest around
70kgs — travelling at 850 mph. The combined weight of
these fragments at sea level is expected to be in the
region of 30 tonnes.

The fragments will fall across an area roughly 125 miles
by 3,725 miles. The total cost of the de-orbiting
operation has been put at US$25 million.

In 2000, Lloyd’s of London accepted insurance premiums
worth pnds stlg 270 million for space and satellite risks.
Lloyd’s is the world’s major space insurer and underwrote
the fist space risk in 1965. The market developed mainly
during the 1990s.

Risks: In insurance terms, the key risks involved in the de-
orbiting of Mir are:

– Trajectory — any break down in communication between
ground-stations and Mir could result in the spacecraft
re-entering on the wrong trajectory

– Aircraft

– Shipping

– Possible landfall

Insurance: A reinsurance policy valued at $200 million has been
placed in the London and international insurance markets
on behalf of the Russian space authorities by Lloyd’s
broker, Heath Lambert. Several Lloyd’s syndicates are
involved in this reinsurance.

Gary Bryant, Executive Director of Heath Lambert’s
Aerospace Division said:
“We have a long standing relationship with the Russian
space industry and handle around 70% of the Russian space
insurance market. This is, of course, a very unusual
insurance project, not least because of the size of Mir,
and represents the flexibility of the London and
international aerospace markets.”

Simon Clapham, senior underwriter with the Lloyd’s-based
Marham Space Consortium said:
“This is the largest single object ever to be de-orbited
and represents a unique risk for insurers to deal

David Wade, Satellite Technical Analyst with the Marham
Space Consortium said:
“Many satellites have re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere
since the dawn of the space age but Mir is by far the
largest. Unlike many other re-entries, Mir is under the
complete control of its ground-based controllers and
should safely splash down in the designated area.”

Contact: If you would like to speak with a Lloyd’s representative,
please call:

Adrian Beeby, Media Relations Manager on 020-7327 6272

Sarah Pelling, Media Relations Executive on 020-7327 6256

John Lute, Lute & Company, (416) 929-5883 ext 227

SpaceRef staff editor.