Originally created 08/05/98

Russia financing next Mir mission on credit



MOSCOW -- The next mission to the Mir space station is being launched on credit, despite the government's promises to provide more cash, a news agency reported Tuesday.

Russia's Energiya company, which runs the Mir, has taken out $33 million in commercial credit to finance the Aug. 13 launch, company President Yuri Semenov told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

"People will be up there, so it is necessary to take credits," ITAR-Tass quoted him as saying.

Semenov says the government owes Energiya a total of about $120 million, and has received no payments despite new promises in recent weeks.

The three-man crew scheduled to depart for the Mir include a politician and former presidential advisor, Gennady Baturin, and the cosmonaut who is expected to be the final person to live aboard the station, Sergei Avdeyev.

Avdeyev, who has spent two previous tours aboard Mir, currently plans to stay on board the station until it is closed down and sent crashing back to Earth next June.

At least one other mission is expected to travel to the station in coming months. Current plans call for two visiting astronauts -- one French, one Slovak -- to travel to the station in February.