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starship-design: Fwd: Believe it or not.

In case you thought Mir and the Russians couldn't get weirder....

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Friday June 25 10:00 AM ET  

Mir Set For New Role -- As Movie Set

By Elizabeth Piper

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's aging Mir space station may have won a
reprieve thanks to a film
director who wants to shoot part of a movie on the 13-year-old

Russian space officials were cautious Friday about film director Yuri
Kara's plans to solve the space
station's financial problems after its last sponsor failed to come up
with a much-needed $100 million

``Even if we succeed only in filming a few minutes in space, it will be
a grandiose, distinguishing
event for Russians, who need to feel that again after Yuri Gagarin was
the first man in space,'' Kara
was quoted as saying.

``Everything depends on money and this (film) is all about huge sums of
money,'' a Russian Space
Agency spokesman said.

Russia's government has said it would be unable to fund the Mir after
this summer, but decided the
station could stay in orbit until August or longer if private funds were

Moscow had planned to retire Mir in June 1998 but earlier this month
said it could stay in orbit until
2000 without a crew as officials continued the frantic hunt for

The spokesman said he had not seen any signed agreement with Kara for
the station's use and
was unsure whether he had put in a formal request to film ``The mark of
Cassandra'' onboard.

``Nothing official has arrived, but Kara has said his actors are
ready...and there is nothing
unrealistic about this project,'' the spokesman said.

He said the actors and crew would have to take special safety measures.

``To ensure everyone's safety, several crews need to be trained and
along with the actors there
should be specialists because it can be dangerous,'' he said.

The film's leading man, popular Russian actor Vladimir Steklov, has
already started his cosmonaut
training, RIA news agency quoted Kara as saying.

``Many artists, not only Russians, have heard about this unique project,
and have dreamed about
becoming the first actor or actress to be filmed in space,'' Kara said.

He said many famous Russian actors had to be ruled out because they were
not fit enough.

For Energiya, the corporation which owns Mir, the film would be a
victory in its fight to keep Mir aloft
-- as long as it paid well.

``A lot of financing is needed,'' the spokesman said.  
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