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Come fly with us

发布时间:2019-03-08 04:08:14来源:未知点击:

By Charles Seife RUSSIA’s efforts to keep the Mir space station aloft are getting desperate. Last week, officials in Moscow announced that a British-born businessman would pay $100 million for a week-long ride on Mir. But within a day, it became unclear whether he had the cash. For months, Energia, the company based in Korolev, near Moscow, that runs Mir, has been claiming that a foreign backer would keep the station in orbit (This Week, 27 February, p 25). Last week, Energia spokesman Sergei Gromov announced that the station’s saviour would be Peter Llewellyn, who had agreed to bankroll the station in return for a week in orbit. But Llewellyn promptly came up with a somewhat different story. “There’s no cost involved in me going,” he said in a BBC radio interview. Russia has to send up a spacecraft to retrieve the French astronaut Jean-Pierre Haigneré. “I’m basically hitching a ride.” Llewellyn reportedly runs a waste recycling company called Microlife USA, based in Minnesota. He claims that money raised by sponsorship of his flight would fund a children’s hospital in Moscow. Given the confusion surrounding Llewellyn’s plans and finances, it seems unlikely that he will fly. “I don’t have any comment,” Christopher Faranetta, deputy managing director of Energia’s American operations, told New Scientist. But some observers suspect that Energia has indeed found a benefactor because Mir has been recently been boosted into a higher orbit to prevent it from falling back to Earth (This Week, 1 May, p 5). One source of funding might be the Chinese government. In 1996, a handful of Chinese underwent astronaut training at Star City,