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Mir's deorbit date delayed
Posted: Thu, Feb 15, 2001, 1:44 PM ET (1844 GMT)
Mir space station The Russian space station Mir will likely remain in orbit until mid-March, about a week later than previously planned, the Itar-Tass news agency reported Thursday. The report, picked up by the AP and Reuters, cited Rosaviakosmos officials who now say the space station will come down between March 13 and 18, rather than the March 6 to 8 timeframe previously announced. Russian officials had planned to start deorbiting maneuvers on March 3, when the station's altitude was expected to be 250 km, but it appears now the orbit is decaying more slowly than expected and thus will not reach 250 km until later in the month. The AP also reported Russian experts saying that "atmospheric conditions" would allow more of the station to burn up upon reentry, but it's not clear what exactly that means. Meanwhile, hardline Russian communists continue to rail against the decision to bring down the station, as communist leader Gennady Zyuganov asked Russian president Vladimir Putin recently to stop the deorbiting, calling continued cooperation with the U.S. and the International Space Station "increasingly problematical" in the wake of U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system.
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