Investors Agree to New Funding; First Space Internet Portal to Fly on September Mission

Today’s arrival of two cosmonauts on Mir
has boosted MirCorp’s plan to commercialize the manned station, with new
private funding commitments clearing the way for a second mission that will
place the first Internet portal in space.

Cosmonauts Sergei Zaletin and Alexander Kalery opened the hatch to Mir
this morning after successfully docking their Soyuz transport spacecraft to
the massive orbital station.
They became the first crewmembers to board Mir
since 1999, and the cosmonauts will reactivate the station for commercial

“With the opening of Mir’s hatch, a pathway was created to an exciting new
era of business in space,” MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber said.

MirCorp holds a lease agreement for commercial operation of the
Russian-built and owned station.
The company helped finance today’s mission
to Mir, which will see the cosmonauts remaining onboard the facility for more
than 40 days.

Second round financing pledged by investors

Manber announced that MirCorp’s investors have committed to the second
round of funding, allowing another privately-backed manned flight to be
launched to Mir in 2000.
The new flight is targeted for the September
timeframe, and will bring hardware to set up a space portal for Internet data
content delivery.

“Our investors reaffirmed their commitment to Mir’s commercialization with
a substantial amount of money for the second round of financing,” Manber said.
“This commitment will allow the new manned mission later this year, which will
include establishing the first ever Internet portal in space.”

MirCorp investor Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria confirmed that he and MirCorp’s
lead investor — the venture capital firm Gold & Appel — have agreed to
provide a second round of private funding.

“People have been talking about space exploration, commercialization and
colonization for 40 years — and MirCorp has been able to accomplish this in
under three months since its creation,” Kathuria said.
“As a result, the
current group of investors has now stepped up with additional capital to
ensure that Mir stays in orbit and the renovation begins for true commercial

Dr. Kathuria, who is an Internet and telecom entrepreneur, said the
Internet portal is typical of commercial space business the company expects to
develop over the near- and medium-term.
The portal will carry data content as
well as live images of the Earth from space.
“We have built successful
Internet companies in Europe and Japan that have valuations in the billions of
dollars, and we feel our first ever Internet space portal on Mir will have a
high value as well,” he added.

According to Dr. Kathuria, MirCorp’s management and investors will work to
develop both traditional and non-traditional business activity for the
company, with MirCorp going public in the third or fourth quarter of 2001.

“Positioning Mir as a consumer product”

“We expect short-term revenue to come from the positioning of Mir as a
consumer product,” he said.
“MirCorp anticipates business will evolve from
many areas, including the entertainment and media sector, foreign missions to
the station, aerospace research projects, satellite assembly and repair, and
industrial production.”

The Holland-based MirCorp was formed earlier this year to operate as a
direct link between commercial users of Mir and the space station’s Russian

MirCorp acts as a facilitator, beginning with the establishment of
business conditions for Mir’s use, and continuing through successful
completion of a user’s activity on board the station.
The company signed a
first-of-its kind commercial lease agreement for Mir in February with RSC
Energia, the Russian space systems manufacturer that built and operates the
space station.
MirCorp is 60% owned by RSC Energia, while the remaining 40%
held by its investors.

When the February agreement was signed, MirCorp said it would help finance
the first manned mission to Mir since 1999, as well as the flight of an
unmanned cargo supply craft that successfully docked to Mir in February.
Russia would have been forced to allow the massive space station to burn up in
the Earth’s atmosphere had MirCorp not provided private financing to maintain

Andrew Eddy, MirCorp’s senior vice president-business development, said
the April 4 launch of the two Russian cosmonauts and their successful docking
at Mir today represent crucial milestones for the company.

“Building a business case depends to a great extent on the public
perception of Mir,” he said.
“Until now, the perception had been that Mir was
a dying space station, ready to reenter the atmosphere and burn up.
today’s docking the message is clear: We’re open for business.”

Eddy said significant interest is building within the space community for
Mir’s commercial use, and MirCorp also is actively seeking non-traditional
As part of this effort, MirCorp has signed an agreement with the
William Morris Agency to identify mass media and entertainment merchandising
opportunities for Mir.

MirCorp’s Internet Web site will be posting regular updates on the
company’s business development, and will provide exclusive video streaming
interviews with the Mir station’s cosmonaut crews as they carry out their
activities onboard the station.
The Web site address is: .