Of Human Interest: The lighter side of the news
THE END OF AN ERA
Mir is scheduled to make its fiery descent into the Pacific Ocean Friday.
Russian scientists are using a series of rocket firings to slow the 130-ton space station, allowing its orbit to decay from about 235 miles above the Earth to about 130 miles. Mir should reach that point early Friday morning, when the rockets from an attached cargo ship will be fired -- forcing the craft into the upper atmosphere.
Most of Mir will burn up during re-entry. But as much as 30 tons of debris -- some in chunks as large as automobiles -- could crash into the ocean about 3,000 miles east of New Zealand.
The burning pieces will be streaking across the sky from the northwest. Ship traffic in a huge area of the south Pacific has been banned. But people from around the world have been traveling to the splashdown area to watch the celestial show expected to rival an incredibly dense meteor shower.
The first section of Mir was launched Feb. 20, 1986. It was supposed to have just a 5-year lifespan, but the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and subsequent budgetary constraints erased plans for a new space station, so scientists kept crews aboard Mir until last year.
WEDNESDAY: This is Flower Day.
It's also Memory Day, and Single Parents Day (Web site: www.singleparentsday.com)
Today is Naw-Ruz, the Baha'i New Year's Day.
The Iranian celebration of the New Year is known as Noruz.
This is National Tree Planting Day in Lesotho.
Namibia celebrates Independence Day today.
And it's Human Rights Day in South Africa.
(Thanks to Chase's 2001 Calendar of Events)
Prior to achieving independence from South Africa in 1990, what was Namibia known as?
Namibia was previously known as South West Africa.
©Copyright 2001, United Press International