The Russian space agency officially announced yesterday that they would dump the aged Mir space station in the Pacific Ocean this February. Launched in 1986, Mir was originally designed for a three-year mission. Despite numerous repair missions, time has taken its inexorable toll on the space station, and many regard it as a safety hazard. In addition, Russia's space program has to contend with a drastically reduced budget in comparison to the golden age of Soviet space exploration. Russia's partners in the International Space Station have long urged that the space agency abandon Mir and concentrate its resources on the new space station. At present, the plan is to send a cargo ship to Mir in late January which will push the station toward the atmosphere over the Pacific. While all precautions will be made to ensure a safe re-entry, Russian officials conceded that they cannot make any guarantee that all sections will fall into the ocean.


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