Bits of Mir Hard to Find, Worth Little

ByABC News
March 27, 2001, 12:49 PM

March 27 -- Imagine placing a twisted scrap of metal on your coffee table and boasting to friends you own this piece of Russian history this chunk of the fallen space station, Mir.

OK, so it wouldn't actually be a piece of the Mir, but, as its vendor points out on the auction Web site eBay, "You can tell your friends that this is a real piece of the Mir Space Station, and only you will know that it is not."

Fake Mir space junk is only one among a collection of several Mir-related items already for sale on the auction site. But so far there have been no reports of people finding real pieces of the fallen space station. Since the station was guided to fall over a large swath of the Pacific Ocean rather than on land, some feel the chances of people finding actual pieces of the station are slim to none.

As James George, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Space Frontier Foundation, says, "It landed in an awfully big ocean."

Still, not finding debris hasn't stopped people from trying to sell it.

One day after the space station fell to earth, two people claimed to have chunks from the station and were starting bids on eBay at $2,000. The offers were soon labeled as "invalid."

Finding Floating Debris

George, who flew on a tour to watch the Mir's descent, supposes the only chance some crafty scavenger will actually come up with a piece of Mir debris is if it washes up on land.

Most of the Mir station burned up in the atmosphere during its reentry early last Friday morning, but George says some remains, such as the station's pressurized tanks, likely survived the reentry and are probably floating either on or just below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

"There's a chance items that float, like the tanks, could wash up," he says.

Until pieces of the real thing are found, collectors can choose from a number of Mir related items in the offing. Some Mir-related souvenirs now for sale on eBay include an abstract painting of the Mir falling to earth, copies of old Russian speeches about the station and several toy models of Russia's former pride and glory.