Suva, Fiji Islands

For additional information, contact:
Ulafala Aiavao,

The Pacific Islands Forum is seeking assurances from Russia that its
space station Mir poses minimal threats to Pacific Island nations when
it crashes to Earth sometime in the near future.

“The planned final stages of the descent of the Russian space station
to a zone in the South Pacific is raising serious concerns due to the
uncertainties about when and where it will crash,” said Acting Secretary
General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr. Iosefa Maiava.

“We want to be fully informed about the timetable and pathway of descent,
and we’re seeking an assurance that this activity is consistent with
international safety standards and poses minimal threats to Pacific
Island countries,” Mr. Maiava said.

Current information is that the space station will splash down between
the 10th and 15th of March, somewhere between New Zealand and Chile. The
possible track is 100 kilometers (60 miles) wide and 1,000 kilometers
(600 miles) long.

The Forum understands from previous information provided by the Russian
Aero Space Agency that the space station contains no radioactive or
hazardous materials aboard.

Most of the 130-ton station is expected to burn up in the atmosphere,
with Russian officials attempting to bring it down in an area 140 degrees
West, 47 degrees South, about 4,000 kilometers (2,400 miles) East of New

Some particles are expected to survive re-entry with controllers hoping
these will land in the open ocean, away from human activity.

There are international guidelines to advise operators of the safest way
to dispose of their satellites. International Treaties, under the United
Nations, identify responsibility and potential liabilities associated
with the operation of space vehicles.

As the ‘Launching State,’ Russia is responsible for any impact or results
of the MIR re-entry in accordance with, for example, Article VII and VIII
of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the
Exploration and Use of Outer Space Including the Moon and Other Celestial

The Forum Secretariat is liaising with regional agencies and foreign
missions as part of efforts to keep member states informed of developments.