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Mir goes west

21 March 2001 Media Statement

Mir goes west

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that latest information suggests that the Mir space station will pass about 1250 kilometres to the northeast of New Zealand before splashing into the South Pacific at about 6pm on Friday (NZ time).

"While the final orbit is slightly closer to New Zealand than previously advised, we remain confident that the Mir space station poses no risk to New Zealand.

"The change to Mir's final orbit means that no longer will it be passing directly over Fiji and Tonga.

"The aiming point for the debris is about 3600 kms to the east of Stewart Island. To put this distance in context, this is about the same distance from New Zealand as the middle of Australia.

"The Maritime Safety Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority have issued notifications to shipping and airlines which operate in the area of ocean and airspace to the east of New Zealand. Updates are being issued as information comes to hand.

"We are particularly concerned about the need to get this advice to a large fleet of American fishing vessels which have moved into the area. We are going to some lengths to get messages to the fleet.

"On the day of Mir's return to Earth, New Zealand will be represented by a New Zealand diplomat in the Russian space control centre in Moscow to give us early warning of any changes to the space station's orbit," Helen Clark said.


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