“Past and future of ‘New Space’ ”, Cosmic Log, 21/5. This entry concerns a documentary, Orphans of Apollo, on the attempts to privatize the Mir space station.
An earlier article from the New York Times, “American Megamillionaire Gets Russki Space Heap!”, 23 July 2000, is a curious and somewhat discomforting article on the eccentric millionaire who founded the short-lived MirCorp.
According to the Russian philosopher Grigori Pomerants, his country has slipped into “a state of mass disorientation” since the collapse of the Soviet empire. MirCorp’s presence here, surely, does not help. Anderson’s company comes with its fat wallets, its precocious grandmasters of capitalism, buying at deep discount the detritus of the space race, the Soviet Union, the cold war.
Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalyov gets a brief mention:
In Korolev, the morning of the docking, television crews trail muddy tracks as they push through the command-and-control center’s drab marble foyer. Everyone’s in a hurry – who are these rich investors? – and no one is wiping his feet. Upstairs, the control room proper resembles an aging 1950’s college lecture hall – rows of concentric half-circles, a projection screen up front. Old men fill the back landing, clasping hands and taking pictures. The engineers and cosmonauts of years past are on hand: Boris Chertok, 89 years old, who commanded the first space docking ever; Sergei Krikalev, still young and mustached , who in 1991 orbited overhead in Mir while the Soviet Union dissolved below, asking, “Is it true that Russia is going to sell the Mir space station, together with us?’’ All have seen communism, perestroika and failed capitalism; all regard Anderson’s impassioned, impertinent largess with irresolute, blank stares.
My own feelings on these attempts at privatization: has the Russian space program really come to this? Yurii Gagarin and Sergei Korolyov (if they were still alive) would have an apoplectic fit.
“Russia ‘to save its ISS modules’ ”, BBC News, 22/5. This report by Anatoly Zak says that Russian officials are speculating on the possibility of detaching the ISS Russian segment and keeping it going as an independent station/launching port for 20 or 30 years. Is it possible the detached Russian modules could be utilized as a basic spaceship to Mars, say with a module containing a nuclear reactor on the end added (to power electric engines)? This page from a 1987 book at Astronaut.ru features a spaceship design that looks a little like the Russian ISS segment, with a propulsion module and lander added.