Lloyd’s Follows Mir’s Re-Entry As the World Braces for Splashdown

March 22, 2001

Lloyd’s announced that an expert team of brokers and underwriters, who are closely following the de-orbiting process of Russia’s Mir space station, would be available to comment on the risks and other insurance issues relating to the scheduled splashdown in the South Pacific tomorrow morning.

The experts aren’t casual observers, as Lloyd’s has a lot riding on Mir’s successful landing. “A reinsurance policy valued at $200 million has been placed in the London and international insurance market on behalf of the Russian space authorities by Lloyd’s broker, Heath Lambert, “said the statement. “Several Lloyd’s syndicates are also involved in this reinsurance,” it added.

Lloyd’s identified the main risks as follows:
– Trajectory – any breakdown in communications between ground-stations and Mir could result in the spacecraft re-entering on the wrong trajectory.
– Aircraft
– Shipping
– Possible landfall
“This is the largest single object ever to be de-orbited, and represents a unique risk for insurers to deal with,” stated Simon Clapham, senior underwriter with Lloyd’s Marham Space Consortium.

The space station, which weighs 137 tons, is expected to break up on re-entering the earth’s atmosphere over Africa and the Pacific, and the debris should fall into a vast expanse of ocean between Australia and Easter Island, but if anything goes wrong, there’s a remote possibility that car-sized chunks could impact on populated areas in South America, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. The 2800 residents of Easter Island have also reportedly expressed some concern, as have members of the South Pacific Forum, which represents 16 island nations and territories in the affected area.

The re-entry, which is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. GMT (12:30 a.m. EST) will be closely watched. A U.S. website, mirreentry.com, expects between 5 and 10 million people to log on over the next three days. It’s operator, NaviSite, has hired planes and camera crews to cover the splashdown zone in the hopes of transmitting actual pictures over the site.

Anyone interested in learning more about the insurance aspects from Lloyd’s experts should contact Adrian Beeby, Media Relations Manger at: 44-20-7327-6272, Sarah Pelling, Media Relations Executive at: 44-20-7327-6256 or John Lute of John Lute & Co. at 416-929-5883, ext. 227.

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