Moon phase




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Life on Mars ?
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Pop Singer to Fly In Space
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The Universe in a Nutshell
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In the mind of:
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Early Vibrators
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among us
Book: Darwin
Book: Russell


Farewell to Mir

The final countdown for Mir has started. It has already beein refueled, and lowered into an orbit at the limits with the atmosphere.

Splashdown in the South Pacific is expected at around 0630 GMT Friday.

The last mission of Mir will being six hours before then.
For three times its rockets will fire. bringing the station down in the ocean halfway between New Zealand and Chile. The first two will alter its nearly circular orbit to an elliptical one, the third will begin as the station passes over the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Most of the eight-module complex should burn up in the atmosphere but about 1,500 pieces are expected to survive, including a few the size of a small automobile.

Whatever parts survive reentry into the atmosphere should fall into a 380,000 square mile swath of unpopulated South Pacific waters.

The US Space Command, the military division that tracks satellites, estimates it as "2 billion chances to 1 that you're going to get struck by this thing".

Although the landing is generally regarded as safe, there are 2 possible scenarios that worry the experts:

1. If the rocket engine guiding Mir into the South Pacific quits halfway through its burn, debris could strike parts of Europe.
2. If the engine quits even sooner, Mir could stay in orbit a lot longer and land anywhere.

If the engines fail completely, Mir is expected to fall from orbit on its own March 28, plus or minus 5 days.

Mir space station has been nearly 15 years in orbit (since february 19, 1986) and not only has it lasted more than any other space station, but also much more than it was designed for. Furthermore, the funding dropped from the height of the soviet era to the depths of postcommunist Russia.
Aging and lack of funding are responsible for the many recents problems of Mir, from a fire to a collision, to uncountable power losses, stability losses, contact losses, etc. And for this reason, the space station is considered a danger. It has been abandoned few months ago, and it is due to be destroyed in March(tentative schedule), by burning it in the atmosphere followed by fall of leftovers in the Pacific Ocean east of Australia.

Before this last journey, however, Mir needs one last refuelling. A cargo ship will be sent to dock with it, containing the necessary supplies. This final space randez-vous is being hindered by power losses and stability problems. If the problems persist, it might be necessary to use one last human mission.

Russian authorities have long tried to keep Mir alive, while US space officers were growing increasingly worried that this would not enable russians to concentrate on the new - joint - project: the international space station (ISS) being built by several nations including Russia.

Before deciding for its end, there was also an attempt to transform Mir in a commercial enterprise, a destination for any purpose, from turism to science. MirCorp was created for this purpose, but in vain.

Until its last flight, you can still observe Mir with the naked eye. The coordinates can be found by clicking here.

Details about re-entry observation can be found here:

Dragonfly: NASA And The Crisis Aboard Mir
by Bryan Burrough
Bryan Burrough, coauthor of the bestselling Barbarians at the Gate, has a talent for reworking factual accounts so they read like first-rate thrillers. Dragonfly: NASA and the Crisis Aboard Mir is overwhelming in its scope... Read more



Va Pensiero - Copyright 2004- In association with




an account of the dramatic accidents on Mir in 1997

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