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  Words in the News
INTRO 
  The Russian government decided to abandon its space station Mir. The BBC's Moscow correspondent Robert Parsons reported.
IN FULL 
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Mir space station

3rd June 1999

Mir space station

NEWS 1  

The decision to call time on Mir’s occasionally eccentric orbit around the earth marks the end of an era in Russian space exploration. By the time it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere and disappears beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean, it will have been in space close on fourteen years - an unrivalled achievement. But its age and the limitations of the Russian budget, have forced the government’s hand. It says it will finance Mir until the end of August. Thereafter the station will be allowed to fly unmanned until February or March, in the hope that private sponsors can be persuaded to extend its life.

WORDS 
 

call time : bring something to an end

eccentric: here, irregular: also used to describe people who behave in an unusual way

marks : draws attention ( to an event or occasion)

By the time...it will have been: an example of the Future Perfect tense, which is used to refer to a past event, but from the future

close on: nearly, almost

forced the government's hand: if you force someone's hand, you oblige them to do something

unmanned: without a crew

sponsors: if an organisation sponsors something or someone it pays some or all of the expenses

NEWS 2  

Russia may now focus its attention on the international space station which is due to receive its first crew next year. US officials have complained that its construction has been delayed because the Russian space industry has devoted so much of its resources to trying to save Mir.

WORDS   

focus its attention on: concentrate on

due to receive : expected or scheduled to receive

devoted: it has spent a lot of time and money

    The decision was confirmed: details in BBC News Online

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