HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The largest and most complex international construction project in space began on the steppes of Kazakhstan 20 years ago today. Atop its Proton rocket, on Nov. 20, 1998, the Zarya Functional Cargo Block (FGB) thundered off its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome into cold wintry skies. Zarya was built by the Khrunichev in Moscow and served as a temporary control module for the nascent ISS.
In recent weeks, Chinese officials have revealed more details about the investigation into the Long March 5 launch failure last year as well as their ambitious launch plans for this year, which include a landing on the far side of the moon.
Long March 5 will be returned to flight in the second half of 2018, according to Bao Weimin, head of the Science and Technology Committee of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). Engineers have identified the cause of a launch failure that occurred last July and are working to verify it, he said.
With it being Saturday already back on the East Coast, former MirCorp CEO and convicted tax evader Walt Anderson is now a free man. And the Space Frontier Foundation is partying like its 1999.
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
MirCorp founder Walt Anderson is working on a cloud computing start-up as he approaches the end of a nearly 8-year prison term for tax evasion, according to a message posted on the Justice for Walt website.
I am now back in the real world. I am currently on “home detention” at my parent’s homne [sic] in Virginia. I will be completely done with this ordeal on December 29, 2012. Unil [sic] December 29, 2012 I will not be able to travel outside the Washington DC area, but I have lots of things to work on here for now.
“Orphans of Apollo” to Screen @ ThrillSpy International Film Festival Goethe Theater Washington D.C. Friday October 9th, 3 p.m. http://www.thrillspy.org/
The Space Show Dr. David Livingston’s taped interviews with MirCorpÂ CEO Walt Anderson from inside the Fairton Correctional Facility in New Jersey. Sunday, October 11, 12-1:30 PM PDT http://www.thespaceshow.com/
Over the last six months, there have been several new legal developments in the case of space commercialization pioneer Walt Anderson, who is serving a 9-year sentence for tax fraud at a federal prison in New Jersey. The legal developments have renewed call from Anderson’s vocal supporters that the entrepreneur is innocent and should be released from prison.
Alan Boyle has reviewed Michael Potter’s film, “Orphans of Apollo,” for his Comic Log website. He reviews the lessons that the failed effort to commercialize the Mir space station taught people:
The biggest lesson is that you want to have the government as your customer, not your enemy. “I think the slightly more commercial and realistic and politically savvy entrepreneurs who are now investing in private space understood where Walt went wrong,” David Chambers, who was MirCorp’s vice president of strategic planning, says in the movie. “And they’re prepared to play nice with the various governments that they need to play nice with.”
There are two especially dangerous types of people in the world: those with nothing to lose, and those with everything to lose. The former is desperate and, having little at stake, is often willing to do almost anything to survive. The latter often feels like he can do anything. This attitude can propel them to great heights – and to spectacular falls.
The themes of desperation and hubris run through Michael Potter’s film, Orphans of Apollo. The fascinating documentary recounts the briefly successful – but ultimately failed – effort to privatize the Russian space station Mir at the turn of the century. The film – which is now available on DVD and will screen at the Sacramento International Film Festival on March 30 – also chronicles the fall of early space entrepreneur Walt Anderson.
As I watch companies lay off tens of thousands of employees every week (and sometimes every day), I’m beginning to wonder if we’re watching another space bubble burst. If so, it is second such deflation in the last decade.