24 February 2000
News - Tourism (Good)
Formation of MirCorp Marks Start of New Era
Broad Popular Support for New Venture
by Patrick Collins
Energiya, a space technology company, and Gold & Appel, a holdings firm, recently established a joint venture, MirCorp, whose purpose is to commercialise the orbiting space station, Mir.

The company's web site http://www.mirstation.com/ gives many details.

The news has received positive, widespread coverage in the mainstream press, including CNN, BBC, and most major newspapers.

Although MirCorp plans to employ the station for a variety of purposes, including a film studio and laboratory, the aspect that receives the most media attention is the plan to convert Mir into a hotel.

This will represent a huge advance in the field of space tourism, as there will be a commercially accessible destination in orbit--provided that plans to refurbish MIR succeed.

While MIR is very expensive to access (the expendable Soyuz rocket is currently the only method of transportation), the hotel's existence should help raise funds to develop reusable passenger launch vehicles.

MirCorp plans to raise funds on the order of US $100 million; discussions with several companies interested in orbital accomodations are already underway.

MirCorp also has to contend with enraged government space agencies who are going to lose the last remnants of their public support once voters and taxpayers have access to space.

Aviation Week (February 14, p 21) reports that NASA is already claiming that the Soyuz mission announced to start refurbishing MIR was paid for by NASA - on the understanding that it would be used to bring MIR down to burn up in the atmosphere!

It's going to be fascinating to see how things play out. We know what the public want - the freedom to travel to space and back. What do government space agencies want? The continuation of their $25 billion/year funding from taxpayers - while NOT spending it on helping them get to space.

The ongoing MirCorp saga should help to bring this startling contradiction more clearly into the public eye.
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Patrick Collins 24 February 2000
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