Project of the preservation of the space station Mir as an object of the world cultural heritage

Press-office of Social and Ecological Union's Coordination and Information Center.

The space station Mir is the most complex and unique vehicle of the twentieth century. It was constructed in the USSR and Russia and has been flying in the space since February 1986 (more than 13 years). It became a real international space "house" and laboratory.

Not only material and technical resources but potential, unique results, achievements, a colossal experience of the home and world cosmonautics in the field of the piloted space flights, in the duration of people's living outside the earth (to 1.5 years), in permanent access to space and human presence in the near -earth orbit, guaranteed return to the Earth are concentrated on the station Mir. It is not only knowledge, formulas, calculations, drafts, descriptions, trials, huge expenses. First space rockets and crafts, first human flight into space and first sacrifices on this way, methods and results of the space experiments, mistakes, crashes, solved, unsolvable and new problems are in the station Mir as in the precious and unique cultural and technological "alloy".

Thus, in fact we deal with the absolutely new object of a cultural heritage of the mankind and its integral part - space heritage (working "wonder of the world", which is flying and available to visiting and living).

It becomes more significant in connection with the planned stopping the exploitation of Mir in 1999 after completion of the current space expedition and return to the Earth of the cosmonauts (two Russians and one French) with the further liquidation of the station in February-March of 2000.

Meanwhile, the calculations and experience in the liquidation of the previous space stations of a considerably less size (Skylab in the USA and Salyut in the USSR) show that ecologically safe completion of the existence of the space station Mir (its mass is more than 140 tons) by sinking is impossible: fall of its parts can be dangerous for the earth-based objects. It means that this measure is anti-ecological and very dangerous. Moreover, the project of the liquidation was not under obligatory ecological examination (according to the Russian Federal law of 1995 "On the ecological examination") and can not be fulfilled according to the legal basis. And this examination is unlikely to be carried out: there is no legal basis for it, there were not precedents.

The salutary alternative to way out of the ecological and cultural impasse is in a quite new decision. It is in proposing to UNESCO the procedure of giving to the space station Mir a status of the object of the World cultural heritage of the mankind as a very valuable unique object of the technical culture of the 20th century, and realization of the special project of its preservation.

The concrete plan of the preservation of the station Mir is supposed to be fulfilled in three stages:

  1. Preservation of the station in the near-earth orbit, including the possibility of transferring it to the higher orbit of flight ( the existence of the station Salyut was prolonged this way);
  2. Proactive organization work to get in UNESCO the status of the object of the World cultural heritage for the station Mir;
  3. Disassembling of the station Mir to the modules in the near-earth orbit, their return to the Earth by using the Space Shuttle (it will require the series of expensive and ecologically harmful flights), then its assembly on the Earth, setting up the museum.

All of this is possible as a big commercial project costing more than 1 billion dollars.

On May-June of 1999 The People's Charity Foundation for the Preservation of the Space Station Mir was set up in Russia. This fact reflects the public need and the will of the civil society.

The proposed project based on the paradigm of the cultural heritage, make it possible to resolve this complicated problem, which is important for the development of the cosmonautics and culture in the interests of a man and mankind at the minimum of damage to the nature. It gives a chance to make a striking positive precedent.

S.V.Krichevsky, L.V.Krichevsky, May 20, 1999.

Ecological summary of the Social and Ecological Union, review No.4, 1999.