Spaceflight Now: Space Station Mir

Mir reentry target date set

Posted: March 8, 2001

Mir. Photo: NASA
Russian space officials decided to postpone the deorbiting of the Mir space station to around March 20 to save the propellant onboard the Progress spacecraft.

As of March 6, the station circled the Earth at the 256-kilometer orbit, losing around 1.5 kilometers of altitude per day. Mir was expected to reach a critical altitude of around 250 kilometers on March 10. At that point, according to the previous plan, the ground controllers would initiate a series of maneuvers, which would lead to Mir's fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean.

However, last week, officials decided to let the natural atmospheric drag to degrade Mir's orbit for a few extra days. As a result, less propellant would be required to deorbit the station. The savings will give the mission control more flexibility in case of unexpected problems during Mir's final hours in orbit.

According to current predictions, without braking maneuvers, the station would reenter around March 28, as a result of the atmospheric drag.

In the meantime, Russian Aviation and Space Agency, Rosaviacosmos, announced that it negotiated with three Russian insurance companies the purchase of a $200-million policy to cover a potential damage caused by the falling debris from Mir.