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For other uses, see Mir (disambiguation).
Mission insignia
Missing image
Mir Insignia

Mir insignia
Mission statistics
Mission nameMir
Call signMir
LaunchFebruary 19, 1986
21:28:23 UTC
Baikonur, USSR
ReentryMarch 23, 2001
05:50:00 UTC
Crew28 long duration crews
Occupied4,594 days
In orbit5,511 days
Number of
Apogee393 km /244 mi
Perigee385 km /239 mi
Period89.1 min
Inclination51.6 deg
~3,638,470,307 km / ~2,260,840,632 mi
Orbital mass
w/Spektr, Kristal, etc.
124,340 kg
Missing image

Mir space station

Mir (Мир, which can mean both world and peace in Russian) was a highly successful Soviet (and later Russian) space station. It was humanity's first permanently inhabited long-term research station in space. Through a number of collaborations, it was made internationally accessible to cosmonauts and astronauts of many different countries. Mir was assembled in orbit by successively connecting several modules, each launched separately from February 19, 1986 to 1996. The station existed until March 23, 2001, at which point it was deliberately de-orbited.



Mir was based upon the Salyut series of space stations previously launched by the Soviet Union. It was mainly serviced by Russian-manned Soyuz spacecraft and Progress cargo ships. It was anticipated that it would also be the destination for flights by the later abandoned Buran space shuttle. The United States had planned to build Space Station Freedom as its counterpart to Mir. In later years, after the end of the cold war, the Shuttle-Mir program combined Russia's Mir capabilities with United States space shuttles. The orbiting Mir provided a large and livable scientific laboratory in outer space. The visiting space shuttles provided transport and supplies, as well as temporary enlargements of living and working areas, creating history's largest spacecraft, with a combined mass of 250 tons. The visiting US shuttles used a modified docking collar originally designed for the Soviet Buran shuttle.

Missing image
The Mir space station

Inside, the 100-ton Mir looked like a cramped labyrinth, crowded with hoses, cables and scientific instruments – as well as articles of everyday life, such as photos, children's drawings, books and a guitar. It commonly housed three crewmembers, but it sometimes supported for up to a month as many as six, including the first Afghan astronaut Abdul Ahad Mohmand. Except for two short periods, Mir was continuously occupied until August 1999.

The journey of the 15-year-old Russian space station ended March 23, 2001, as Mir re-entered the Earth's atmosphere near Nadi, Fiji, and fell into the South Pacific Ocean. Near the end of its life, there were plans for private interests to purchase Mir, possibly for use as the first orbital television/movie studio, but the station was deemed too unstable to be safely used any further. Many in the space community still felt that at least some of Mir was salvageable and that considering the extremely high costs of getting material into orbit, simply disposing of Mir was a seriously wasted opportunity.

In addition to Soviet/Russian cosmonauts, Mir hosted international scientists and U.S. astronauts.

Missing image
Mir Spacestation breaking up in Earth's atmosphere over the South Pacific on March 23, 2001.

Mir modules

The Mir space station was constructed by connecting several Mir modules, each placed into orbit separately. The Mir Core Module (launched in 1986) provided living quarters and station control. Kvant I (1987) and Kvant II (1989) contained scientific instruments and the crew's shower. Kristall (1990) extended Mir's scientific capabilities. Spektr (1995) served as the living and working space for American astronauts. Priroda (1996) conducted Earth remote sensing. The Docking Module (1996) provided a safe and stable port for the space shuttle.

Before, during and after the Shuttle-Mir Program, Mir was tended and resupplied by manned Soyuz capsules and unmanned Progress vehicles.


Missing image
Mir and the Moon, two satellites of the Earth

In Russian, Mir (Мир) means "peace," and connotes "community." Kvant (Квант) means "quantum," a name derived from its purpose to provide research in astrophysics by measuring electromagnetic spectra and x-ray emissions. Kristall (Кристалл) means "crystal," and a main purpose of this module is to develop biological and materials production technologies in the space environment. Spektr (Спектр) means "spectrum," so named for its atmospheric sensors. Priroda (Природа) means "nature." Progress (Прогресс) means the same as it does in English. Soyuz (Союз) means "union," so named for the USSR (Sovietskii Soyuz, Советский Союз = Soviet Union) and because the spacecraft was a union of three smaller modules.

International cooperation

Missing image
This image was recorded by astronauts as the Space Shuttle Atlantis approached the Russian space station prior to docking during the STS-76 mission. Sporting spindly appendages and solar panels, Mir is seen orbiting about 350 kilometers above New Zealand's South Island and the city of Nelson near Cook Strait.

In June 1992, U.S. president George H. W. Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin agreed to join hands in space exploration: one U.S. astronaut would board Mir, two Russian cosmonauts would board a space shuttle. September 1993 U.S. Vice-president Al Gore and Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced plans for a new space station, which would later be called the International Space Station, or ISS. They also agreed that, in preparation for this new project, the U.S. would be largely involved in the Mir project in the years ahead, under the code name Phase One (the ISS being Phase Two). Space shuttles would take part in the transportation of supplies and people to and from the Mir. U.S. astronauts would live in the Mir for many months on end. Thus the U.S. could share and learn from the unique experience that Russia has with long duration space trips.

Starting March 1995 seven U.S. astronauts consecutively spent 28 months on the Mir. During their stay the space station went through rough times and several acute emergencies occurred, notably a large fire on February 23 1997, and a collision with a Progress (unmanned) cargo ship on June 25 of the same year. In both occasions complete evacuation of the Mir (there was a Soyuz escape craft for return to earth) was avoided with a narrow margin. The second disaster left a hole in the Spektr module, which then was sealed off from the rest of the station. Several space walks were needed to restore full power to the Mir (ironically, one of the 'space walks' was inside the Spektr module from which all the air had escaped).

The cooperation between the U.S. and Russia proved far from easy. Distrust, lack of coordination, language problems, different views of each others' responsibilities and divergent interests caused many problems. After the disasters, the U.S. Congress and NASA considered whether the U.S. should abandon the program out of concern for astronauts' safety. NASA administrator Daniel S. Goldin decided to continue the program. In June 1998, the final U.S. Mir astronaut Andy Thomas left the station aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

The story of Phase One is described in great detail by Bryan Burrough in his book Dragonfly: NASA and the Crisis Aboard Mir (1998).

The Mir space station was originally planned to be followed by a Mir 2, and elements of that project, including the core module (now called Zvezda) which was labeled as "Mir-2" for quite some time in the factory, are now an integral part of the International Space Station.

Mir expeditions

See Table of Mir Expeditions.

Mir spacewalks

See Table of Mir Spacewalks.

Visiting spacecraft and crews

(Launched crews. Spacecraft launch and landing dates listed.)

See also

External links


Preceded by:
Salyut 7
Mir progam
Succeeded by:
International Space Station

Template:End box

Template:US manned space programs Template:Russian manned space programscs:Mir da:Mir (rumstation) it:Mir de:Mir (Raumstation) et:Mir (orbitaaljaam) fr:Mir he:מיר id:Mir ja:ミール nl:Mir pl:Mir (stacja orbitalna) pt:Mir ru:Мир (орбитальная станция) sv:Mir zh:和平號太空站


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