Lack Of Funding Grounds
Russian Space Mirror Project
A plan to illuminate Russia's sun-starved northern cities with a huge mirror in space has been postponed indefinitely due to lack of funds, space officials say.
The 100-foot space mirror, called Znamya 2.5, was designed to work like the moon by reflecting sunlight onto parts of northern Russia, lighting them throughout the long, dark days.
The Znamya, or Banner, would have been launched in November.
The mirror was to have been attached to a cargo ship that would release it after the ship docked with the troubled Mir space station.
"We are struggling to raise funds to send regular supplies to the station, let alone the Znamya," says Sergei Gorbunov, a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency. "There is no place for that mirror aboard the cargo ships because we can only ferry the most vital supplies to the station."
In 1993, Russia ran a similar experiment called Znamya 2, but the mirror was barely visible on Earth, says Vera Medvedkova, a spokeswoman for the Mission Control.
The new Znamya was to have eventually included a series of mirrors, and would have resembled a shooting star, not a large object such as the moon, Gorbunov says.
Space officials had planned to keep the 12-year-old Mir in orbit through the end of 1999, but the last crew is now expected to depart next June.

scientists are planning to put what will appear to be a second moon, 10 times as bright as a full Moon, into the night sky above London and other cities in November as part of a scheme to end night-time.
The orbiting space mirror will pass across the night sky quickly, up to 16 times in 24 hours, but will last only one night - Nov 9 - before burning up in the atmosphere. The reflecting spacecraft, Znamya 2.5, is part of a Russian-led consortium's plan which bears some similarities to the plot of the Bond film Diamonds are Forever.
The Space Regatta Consortium, a group of companies led by Energia of Korolev, near Moscow, wants to launch a constellation of several hundred mirrors, each up to 100 times brighter than the full Moon, to cast sunlight from the far side of the globe into the darkest corners of Siberia during the Arctic winter and make city street lights obsolete.
But the proposal has alarmed environmentalists and astronomers. Daniel Green, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, said: "I cringe to think that we could lose the night sky because of all these companies with brain-dead ideas."
David Thomas, of Bangor University, told BBC Wildlife that almost any ecosystem "would get completely screwed up" and that the permanent daylight could cause more Arctic ice to melt. He said plants and animals depended on darkness. He said: "Everything - sex, movement, feeding - is triggered by day length."
Provided that there is little cloud on the night, London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Kiev, Seattle and Quebec are among the cities that will be lit up by what will appear to be a disc between five and 10 times as bright as a full Moon. Some estimates say it could appear to be up to half the size of the Moon. The previous experiment with Znamya 1, a 60 ft wide space mirror, was hampered by cloud. At best, it was only half as bright as the Moon since the reflector did not form a full disc.

Sightings HomePage