Jakarta abandons Mir

Published: Saturday 31 January 1998

indonesia , after beginning negotiations with the Russian space agency rka to put a cosmonaut in space on board the space station Mir, has abandoned the project. The Indonesian government gave no apparent reason for this unexpected change of plans, the rka officials said, speculating that financial constraints might have forced Indonesia to pull out of the project.

A seven to ten-day stay on board the Mir space station can run up a substantial bill. us $12 million is the normal charge for a foreign space agency that wants to send its cosmonaut in space with Russian assistance. Moreover, pre-flight orientation training on earth of the cosmonaut's emergency stand-in takes the bill up by another us $ 8-9 million. rka, which has been operating the Mir station for over 12 years now, hopes to keep its pride and joy functional -- despite the recent embarrassments caused by the ageing station -- till the end of this millennium.

Already on board is the us astronaut David Wolf while Frenchman Leopold Eyeharts is due to head for it on January 29, rka officials said.

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