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Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.

Feature Story

MirCorp Meets the Press at London Ceremony
For February 17 Mir Station Lease Signature

MirCorp made its official public debut today as the international news media gathered in London to witness the signing of MirCorp's commercial lease for the Mir station.

  Meeting the press were (from left to right)
  Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, Jeffrey Manber,
  Dr. Yuri P. Semenov and Andrew Eddy.

"The Mir is one of the great achievements of mankind," MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber told reporters moments after the lease was signed. "We have entered into a new era, as a manned orbital station is being funded for the first time solely from non-government sources. This reflects both the political and economic realities of today, and the belief that in the private sector we may well find the best path for the continued funding of space exploration and space services."

Under the glare of TV lights, Manber signed the commercial lease with Dr. Yuri P. Semenov, General Designer and President of RSC Energia and MirCorp's Chairman.

MirCorp's Lease Is For Mir's Operational Lifetime

Dr. Semenov said he was pleased to be part of an international effort to develop commercial business opportunities on the station that RSC Energia built and operates. "I have no doubts about the capabilities of MirCorp, and I am full of confidence in the station's commercial future," he said. "I also look forward increasing our working relationship with MirCorp."

He said the Mir space station's structure has 60 percent of its useful life remaining. MirCorp – which is leasing Mir for the rest of station's lifetime – estimates the facility can be used by commercial investors for two to five years.

  Dr. Semenov answers questions from
  Russian TV and news agency reporters.

"I do not think we have even begun to understand all of the potential uses of the amazing facility that is Mir," Dr. Semenov told reporters. "Who could have imagined many years ago that Mir and the U.S. space shuttle would dock together for joint missions? What other equally fantastic feats may be possible in the future now that we are making Mir available to commercial users?"

The press conference also provided the opportunity for MirCorp to introduce Andrew Eddy, MirCorp's new Senior Vice President-Business Development, and MirCorp investor Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria.

Major Media Interest in Mir

The interest in Mir and in MirCorp's commercial plans for the station was evident by the large turnout of reporters at today's press conference in central London. It attracted reporters from Reuters, the Associated Press, CNN, ABC, CBS, Sky News, NTV, The Guardian, TASS, ORT, Satellite Finance, Interavia, Satellite Today, Space Business International, and other organizations. Telephone interviews after the press conference were conducted by MirCorp personnel with many other reporters, including those from The Wall Street Journal and Aviation Week.

  Jeffrey Manber, right explains MirCorp's
  goals to the U.K.'s Sky News.

MirCorp's Manber told reporters the company is 60% owned by RSC Energia and 40% held by two investors. These investors are the investment capital fund of Gold and Appel, whose lead investor is Walt Anderson, and a family investment lead by Dr. Kathuria.

"MirCorp therefore is a commercial venture composed solely of commercial organizations and investors," Manber said. "We already have provided the initial funding for continued operations of the space station. In the second round, we will seek financial support from other high net-worth investors, as well as from corporate sponsors. We also are seeking commercial customers. As the news of today's agreement became known, we have received incredible support and expressions of interest from people and companies in Asia, Europe and in the United States."

  Dr. Kathuria's market comments on
  MirCorp were widely reported in the
  international press.

First Round Financing Activity Is Completed

Andrew Eddy, who will begin his duties as MirCorp's Senior Vice President-Business Development on March 1, said the company is pioneering a new phase of commercial business.

"Space commercialization is a nascent market, but MirCorp has the advantage of being first to market," Eddy said. "MirCorp has a clear vision for broadly-based, balanced commercial development, including traditional industrial science and technology applications, education and entertainment, sponsorship and advertising, space-based Internet portal, and citizen explorers."

He outlined three elements for MirCorp's success:

  • Demonstrate that the new Mir station is fully operational and can remain so. Eddy said the early investor confidence has allowed this to take place.

  • Establish MirCorp and MirCorp affiliates to ensure fast and ready access for commercial users. This will underscore that the Mir station can be operated commercially by the private sector for profit.

  • Involve new strategic partners in the renovation of Mir, ensuring continuity for industrial users and the development of the commercial space market.

      Andrew Eddy (left) speaks with
      Interavia's Chris Bulloch.

    "One of the Best Business Opportunities of This Millennium"

    An investor's point of view of MirCorp was provided by Dr. Kathuria, who told reporters that MirCorp potentially represents "one of the best business opportunities of this millennium – creating shareholder wealth."

    Dr. Kathuria represents his family's holding company, and is a telecommunications and Internet entrepreneur.

    "In seeking business opportunities, we look for an unexploited and growing market, undervalued assets, a paradigm shift where you can be the first mover, and where you have potentially strong growth in profits that to lead to an initial public offering," he said. "We utilized the same business concepts when we invested in the first free ISP in the U.K., and when we pioneered using the wireless telephone as the only telephone. MirCorp represents such an opportunity."

    Dr. Kathuria explained that the first round financing for Mir commercial activity already has been completed. This involves at least $20 million from MirCorp's investors, and at least an equal amount in services coming from RSC Energia. Similar amounts of financing will be sought in the second round.

    In a later step, MirCorp will go to capital markets to seek about $150 million for the Mir operations and improvements to the station.

  • Also see the press releases from the conference.


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