Russia is continuing to play a cat-and-mouse game with NASA over the International Space Station (ISS) and national Mir space station programmes.

Being pressed by NASA to de-orbit the Mir as soon as possible to pave the way for the ISS, Russia is claiming that lack of funds will mean that the station will have to remain in orbit until 2000.

Russia wants to keep the Mir operational as long as possible as it generates much-needed dollars from the flying of commercial international cosmonauts. If the ISS is delayed further, Russia will still operate a space station, while the ISS remains grounded.

Russian space director Valeri Ryumin, who inspected the Mir during the recent STS91 mission has concluded that the station could operate for two more years

Source: Flight International