Dunhuang is a county-level city in northwestern Gansu Province, Western China. The 2000 Chinese census reported a population of 187,578 in this city. Dunhuang is best known for the nearby Mogao Caves, it has been known at times as Shazhou and, in Uyghur, Dukhan. Dunhuang is situated in a oasis containing Crescent Lake and Mingsha Shan, named after the sound of the wind whipping off the dunes, the singing sand phenomenon. Dunhuang commands a strategic position at the crossroads of the ancient Southern Silk Route and the main road leading from India via Lhasa to Mongolia and Southern Siberia, as well as controlling the entrance to the narrow Hexi Corridor, which led straight to the heart of the north Chinese plains and the ancient capitals of Chang'an and Luoyang. Administratively, the county-level city of Dunhuang is part of the prefecture-level city of Jiuquan. Several possible sources of the name Dunhuang have been suggested by scholars. Giles 1892: 墩煌 Dūnhuáng ‘artificial mound, beacon mound, square block of stone or wood’ + ‘blazing, luminous’.

Mathews 1944: 敦煌 Tūnhuáng, now Dūnhuáng ‘regard as important, to esteem. McGraw-Hill 1963: 敦煌 Dūnhuáng. Jáo and Demieville 1971: 燉煌 Dùn huáng ‘noise of burning’ + ‘great blaze’. Lín Yǚtáng 1972: 墩 Dūn ‘small mound ’ or 燉 Dùn ‘to shimmer ’. Kāngxī 1716: 燉煌 Tún huáng 敦煌 Tūn huáng. There is evidence of habitation in the area as early as 2,000 BC by people recorded as the Qiang in Chinese history, its name was mentioned in relation to the homeland of the Yuezhi in the Records of the Grand Historian. Some have argued that this may refer to the unrelated toponym Dunhong – the archaeologist Lin Meicun has suggested that Dunhuan may be a Chinese name for the Tukhara, a people believed to be a Central Asian offshoot of the Yuezhi. By the third century BC, the area became dominated by the Xiongnu, but came under Chinese rule during the Han dynasty after Emperor Wu defeated the Xiongnu in 121 BC. Dunhuang was one of the four frontier garrison towns established by the Emperor Wu after the defeat of the Xiongnu, the Chinese built fortifications at Dunhuang and sent settlers there.

The name Dunhuang, meaning "Blazing Beacon", refers to the beacons lit to warn of attacks by marauding nomadic tribes. Dunhuang Commandery was established shortly after 104 BC. Located in the western end of the Hexi Corridor near the historic junction of the Northern and Southern Silk Roads, Dunhuang was a town of military importance."The Great Wall was extended to Dunhuang, a line of fortified beacon towers stretched westwards into the desert. By the second century AD Dunhuang had a population of more than 76,000 and was a key supply base for caravans that passed through the city: those setting out for the arduous trek across the desert loaded up with water and food supplies, others arriving from the west gratefully looked upon the mirage-like sight of Dunhuang's walls, which signified safety and comfort. Dunhuang prospered on the heavy flow of traffic; the first Buddhist caves in the Dunhuang area were hewn in 353." During the Sui and Tang dynasties, it was the main stop of communication between ancient China and the rest of the world and a major hub of commerce of the Silk Road.

Dunhuang was the intersection city of all three main silk routes during this time. From the West came early Buddhist monks who had arrived in China by the first century AD, a sizable Buddhist community developed in Dunhuang; the caves carved out by the monks used for meditation, developed into a place of worship and pilgrimage called the Mogao Caves or "Caves of a Thousand Buddhas." A number of Christian and Manichaean artifacts have been found in the caves, testimony to the wide variety of people who made their way along the Silk Road. During the time of the Sixteen Kingdoms, Li Gao established the Western Liang here in 400 AD. In 405 the capital of the Western Liang was moved from Dunhuang to Jiuquan. In 421 the Western Liang was conquered by the Northern Liang; as a frontier town, Dunhuang occupied at various times by non-Han people. After the fall of Han Dynasty it came under the rule of various nomadic tribes, such as the Xiongnu during Northern Liang and the Turkic Tuoba during Northern Wei.

The Tibetans occupied Dunhuang when the Tang empire became weakened after the An Lushan Rebellion. After the fall of Tang, Zhang's family formed the Kingdom of Golden Mountain in 910, but in 911 it came under the influence of the Uighurs; the Zhangs were succeeded by the Cao family who formed alliances with the Uighurs and the Kingdom of Khotan. During the Song dynasty, Dunhuang fell outside the Chinese borders. In 1036 the Tanguts who founded the Western Xia dynasty captured Dunhuang. From the reconquest of 848 to about 1036, Dunhuang was a multicultural entrepot that contained one of the largest ethnic Sogdian communities in China following the An Lushan Rebellion; the Sogdians were Sinified to some extent and were bilingual in Chinese and Sogdian, wrote their documents in Chinese characters but written horizontally from left to right instead of the right to left vertical lines that Chinese was written at the time. Dunhu


MirCorp was a commercial space company created in 1999 by space entrepreneurs and involving the Russian space program that undertook a number of firsts in the business of space exploration by using the aging Russian space station Mir as a commercial platform. Its actions were controversial as it created a roadblock to the International Space Station in creating a viable, low cost alternative; the company achieved the following: First commercial lease agreement for orbiting manned space station First funded manned expedition to a space station First funded cargo resupply mission in space First funded spacewalk First contract for space tourist In terms of business development, the company was able to launch the era of space tourism by signing American businessman Dennis Tito to his launch contract. It signed with television producer Mark Burnett and with NBC, to produce a reality show "Destination Mir", where the winner would travel to space, and it was able to sign other media and commercial space research projects.

MirCorp's CEO Jeffrey Manber stated, "We failed to survive but proved the business model, in the long-term that will be just as important." The company was formed as an idea by telecommunications and space investor Walt Anderson and space advocate Rick Tumlinson. Russia lacked the funds to upgrade and save the space station, had concluded it had no choice but to deorbit the station. Several ideas were floated, including one to hand over the Mir to the United Nations; the idea proposed by Anderson and Tumlinson was to save the Mir space station by raising it to a higher orbit to gain time and developing a "space tether" to supply power to keep the space station in orbit while further funds were raised. This plan was never implemented by the MirCorp team, as the United States government barred the export of the space tether technology until after the deorbit of the space station was announced; the founders recruited space entrepreneur Jeffrey Manber, who had helped negotiate the first contract between the Soviet Union and NASA on space interests, had represented the huge Russian space company RSC Energia in its American dealings during the 1990s.

Manber created the business model for the venture which involved proving that space could be a platform for media and entertainment, as well as serious space research. In February 2000, the agreement between the Russian space company RSC Energia, which had the commercial rights to the space station, MirCorp, was announced in London. Present at the press conference was MirCorp CEO Jeffrey Manber and RSC Energia General Director Yuri P. Semenov. Present at the press conference was co-investor Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, Andrew Eddy, recruited from the Canadian Space Agency; as a result of the company's backing, the RSC Energia officials boosted the Mir into a higher orbit, thus postponing the deorbit, agreed to by the Russian Space Agency in discussions with NASA. Manber explained that the business model for the venture was fashioned after that of air travel, where Boeing may build the planes but commercial agents such as United or British Airways sells the tickets; the intent was to have marketing experts sell the space program, let the space manufacturer, RSC Energia, focus on the safe operations of the station.

Manber explained. MirCorp and RSC Energia were the first to use this strategy for space exploration, which has emerged again more with Sir Richard Branson's announcement to market Scaled Composites StarShip suborbital flights, it was unusual as an international venture with Russia in the 1990s in that the Russians were given the operating control of the venture, reflecting the political realities of the importance of the Mir to the Russian society. RSC Energia owned 60% of MirCorp, whereas the financial investors controlled 40%. Investor Anderson explained that he was comfortable letting the Russians run the space component, his team would run the business. Anderson said, "A lot of this venture is based on trust and simple." Anderson was not so sanguine regarding NASA and he used the media interest in the venture to launch many critical comments towards NASA, the planned International Space Station and the foreign policies of the American government. Anderson selected Holland as the headquarters for the company since he believed the country was far more ethical than that of his own.

Regardless of the controversy, a new era in space exploration was inaugurated on April 4, 2000, when the Soyuz TM-30, known as the MirCorp mission, carried two crew members, Sergei Zalyotin and Alexandr Kaleri, to the Mir space station. The two man crew returned the dormant Mir space station to life, located the source of the leak, repaired the leak, carried on commercial and basic research. Zalyotin admitted to being nervous when the hatch door was opened, not sure what would be found in the station. While the mission was being undertaken, the management of MirCorp was able to announce a number of commercial contracts, including that of the agreement with NBC and Mark Burnett. NBC began running commercials promoting its upcoming "Destination Mir" reality show. On June 16, on schedule, the mission came to an end, it had lasted 73 days and the crew returned in good health. Behind the scenes, the MirCorp management and Energia space officials were both surprised at the technical and commercial success, but worried that the Mir would soon have to be shut for good.

On June 19, 2000, a press conference

Baron Palmer

Baron Palmer, of Reading in the County of Berkshire, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1933 for the patron of music, Sir Ernest Palmer, 1st Baronet, he had been created a baronet, of Grosvenor Crescent in the City of Westminster, in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom on 26 January 1916. The Palmer family had made its fortune from their ownership of the firm of Huntley & Palmers, biscuit manufacturers, of Reading; as of 2017 the titles are held by the first Baron's great-grandson, the fourth Baron, who succeeded his uncle in 1990. He is the son of the Hon. Sir Gordon Palmer, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire from 1978 to 1989, younger son of the second Baron. Lord Palmer is one of the ninety elected hereditary peers that remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, sits as a cross-bencher; the family seat is Manderston, near Berwickshire. Ernest Palmer, 1st Baron Palmer Cecil Nottage Palmer, 2nd Baron Palmer Raymond Cecil Palmer, 3rd Baron Palmer Adrian Bailie Nottage Palmer, 4th Baron Palmer The heir apparent is the present holder's elder son, the Hon. Hugo Bailie Rohan Palmer Palmer Baronets Kidd, Williamson, David.

Debrett's Baronetage. New York: St Martin's Press, 1990. Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages