Anderson, whose company MirCorp leased the Russian space station Mir during that final year of the 20th century, has been under house arrest at his parents home in Virginia since July as part of a nearly 8-year prison term in what the federal government has called the largest individual tax evasion case in history. He served most of the term in a federal prison in New Jersey.
The Space Frontier Foundation — which benefited from Anderson’s financial largess prior to his stay in the Big House — is having a “Flaming Mir” party in his honor on Saturday night at a restaurant in McLean, Virginia. The foundation is paying for drinks, light appetizers and desserts only, and it recommends attendees eat dinner before arriving. The RSVP email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Flush with cash made in the deregulated telecommunications market, Anderson leased the Russian space station Mir in 1999 for space tourism and other commercial purposes. His company, MirCorp, booked Dennis Tito as its first space tourist.
After sponsoring one manned mission to Mir to assess the station’s condition, the effort fell apart due to opposition from the U.S. government, which wanted the Russians to concentrate on the International Space Station, and financial difficulties at MirCorp. The company also experienced delays in exporting an electromagnetic tether for use in boosting Mir’s orbit to Russia.
The Russian government subsequently de-orbited the station into the Pacific Ocean. Tito flew to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz vehicle in a flight arranged by rival Space Adventures. And MirCorp went out of business shortly thereafter.
The high-flying telecommunications entrepreneur and commercial space backer was arrested in February 2005, and he pleaded guilty to hiding hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and evading taxes on them the following year.