Goodbye Mir?

Things aren't looking very good for everyone's favorite piece of space junk. Yesterday Slashdot reported on this story about a space fungus that's been slowly eating the station alive. Apparently the mold was discovered twelve years ago crusting over one of Mir's windows, and has since spread to many of the station's systems. Think I'm kidding? Here's a quote:

A microbiologist, Natalia Novikova, eventually identified the growth as an aggressive space fungus. And since then, she's had her hands full examining the various forms of fungi found growing aboard the ship. The aging Mir, it turns out, is nearly overrun with the stuff. Visitors have found numerous fungal patches with hues between green and black, feeding behind control panels, slowly digesting the ship's air conditioner, communications unit, and myriad other surfaces. Pull out an insulation panel on Mir, and you'll probably find fungus.

But Mir's problems don't stop there. After being abandoned by the Russian government last year, Mir was taken over by a company calling themselves MirCorp. Unfortunately, MirCorp has just about run out of money, and unless $7-10 million is raised in the next few days, plans will be made to de-orbit Mir sometime after its 15 year anniversary this February.

The captains of the Russian space industry sealed the fate of the Mir space station during a crucial meeting on Tuesday.

Officials decided to send the outpost crashing back to Earth soon after it marks its 15th anniversary in orbit in February 2001.

That's not all though. Unless someone comes up with an additional $60 million to fund another mission to Mir, the station will be dropped out of orbit and sent plummenting to Earth. So this February if you're outside and see a large burning object falling from the sky, watch out for the mold. Thanks to Slashdot for the links.

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