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Submitted by N1ORC

Nov. 24, 2000, 9:50 AM
Russian parliament criticizes ditching Mir orbiter
MOSCOW - Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament criticized
government plans Friday to discard the aging Mir space station early next

Deputies overwhelmingly supported a motion condemning the premature end
to operations aboard the Mir orbital station, and ditching it is a poorly
thought out and unjustified step. 

Space officials announced last week that the government had decided to
dump 15-year-old Mir into the Pacific Ocean off Australia late in
February due to lack of cash and viable investors.

It was not immediately clear whether the Duma's statement would influence
the government's decision.

It said some $60 million needed to keep Mir in orbit next year could be
found in the federal budget. Lawmakers say the station provides jobs for
100,000 scientists and engineers.

During its eventful lifetime Mir has helped Soviet and Russian cosmonauts
set a string of space endurance records that have been the nation's pride
-- and the envy of its better-funded U.S. rivals.

But in recent years the station has lost its luster due to a series of
mishaps, including a near catastrophic collision with a cargo craft, an
on-board fire and computer failures which sent it spinning aimlessly
through space.

U.S. space officials have pushed Russia to dump Mir, saying it drained
sparse resources that would be better spent on Russia's role in the
International Space Station.
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