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You see things and say, 'Why?', but I dream things and say, 'Why not?'
-George Bernard Shaw-

Press Releases

MirCorp Inaugurates the Citizen Explorer Program,
Providing Manned Space Missions on Commercial Basis

Moscow, Russia/Washington D.C. (June 19, 2000) – MirCorp opened a new era in space today by inaugurating its Citizen Explorer program, which will provide the first truly commercial manned flight opportunities for private citizens.
Credit: Space Adventures, Ltd.
Dennis A. Tito, the first candidate for MirCorp’s Citizen Explorer program, is shown during weightlessness training in a Russian Il-76 aircraft. Tito is a former U.S. space program engineer who founded Wilshire Associates, one of the pioneering firms in investment management consulting.

Citizen Explorer missions will be flown to Mir, the Russian space station for which MirCorp has a commercial lease agreement.

MirCorp's initial Citizen Explorer candidate is Dennis Tito, a former U.S. space program engineer who founded Wilshire Associates – the Santa Monica, California-based company that revolutionized the field of investment management consulting.

Today's Citizen Explorer program go-ahead follows the successful completion of MirCorp's historic 73-day manned flight to Mir, which was the first privately funded mission of its kind. Two Russian cosmonauts reactivated the large space station, preparing it for MirCorp's future commercial flights. Mission commander Sergei Zalyotin and flight engineer Alexander Kalery landed in Kazakhstan on June 16 after orbiting the Earth more than 1,100 times.

“MirCorp was founded on the belief that wonderful things can happen in space by unleashing the private sector's imagination,” MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber said. “Our new Citizen Explorer program is one element of MirCorp's broad-based business plan, which also foresees commercial uses of Mir that range from pharmaceutical research and other traditional space activities to novel business applications such as an Internet portal and real-time imaging of the Earth.”

Manber said MirCorp has entered initial discussions with several other Citizen Explorer candidates, and flights to Mir will begin in 2001. MirCorp is setting up an office in Moscow to coordinate and support its Citizen Explorers – becoming the first operation in the world to manage a corps of private space travelers.

MirCorp's mission schedule for 2001 and beyond will be announced following the company's next board meeting, to be held in July.

To ensure Mir remains in operational condition for the long-term, MirCorp will fund a new resupply mission in the coming months using a Progress unmanned spacecraft. This will be the third such resupply mission to Mir since MirCorp saved the station from a destructive reentry earlier this year.

Speaking on behalf of MirCorp's investors, Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria said Dennis Tito is an excellent example of the Citizen Explorers that MirCorp expects to attract by opening space for commercial manned missions. Dr. Kathuria is one of MirCorp's major investors and is a member of the company's board of directors.

“Dennis made invaluable contributions to the space program before becoming a respected member of the international financial community,” Dr. Kathuria said. “Mir is now ready to receive Dennis and the other Citizen Explorers who will follow.”

Tito currently is undergoing Russian medical examinations in preparation for his flight – which he said will fulfill a lifelong dream.

“The launch of Sputnik in 1957 influenced me to become involved in the space program, and I was one of the first persons to graduate with a bachelors degree in aeronautics and astronautics,” he said. “As the result of MirCorp's own pioneering efforts, I will be able to accomplish something I have been wanting to do for more than 40 years.”

As an engineer in the 1960s and early 1970s, Tito developed flight trajectories for the U.S. series of Mariner interplanetary spacecraft that went to Mars and Venus. Today, Tito's Wilshire Associates advises investors on about $1 trillion in assets, as well as directly managing about $10 billion in assets and providing analytical tools to some 350 institutions around the world. Wilshire Associates is perhaps best known for its Wilshire 5000 stock index.

The Holland-based MirCorp was formed earlier this year to operate as a direct link between commercial users of Mir and the space station's Russian operators. In February, MirCorp signed a first-of-its kind commercial lease agreement for Mir with RSC Energia, the Russian space systems manufacturer that built and operates the space station.

MirCorp acts as a commercial facilitator, beginning with the establishment of business conditions for Mir's use, and continuing through successful completion of a user's activity on board the station. MirCorp is 60% owned by RSC Energia, while the remaining 40% held by its investors.

Press/media contact:

Jeffrey M. Lenorovitz
The InfoWEST Group
Telephone (U.S.): +1 (703) 448-5669
Telephone (France): +33 6 80-85-86-25
e-mail: jleno@infowestgroup.com


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