This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Mir = Peace

Earth_Mir

February 20, 1986:

Launch of Mir Space Station

The first piece of the Mir Space Station is launched. With 6 docking ports and labs for research, the Space Station was expected to push us into the stars.

The core module will provide living quarters for the cosmonauts, including a galley, cooking elements, storage, individual crew cabins and personal hygiene area. Five additional modules will be launched between March 1987 and April 1996. The term “Mir” is Russian for “Peace”.

Mir operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the largest artificial satellite orbiting the Earth until its deorbit on 21 March 2001 (a record now surpassed by the International Space Station). Mir served as a microgravity research laboratory in which crews conducted experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and spacecraft systems in order to develop technologies required for the permanent occupation of space.

Approach view of the Mir Space Station viewed from Space Shuttle Endeavour during the STS-89 rendezvous. A Progress cargo ship is attached on the left, a Soyuz manned spacecraft attached on the right. Image ID: STS089-340-035

Approach view of the Mir Space Station viewed from Space Shuttle Endeavour during the STS-89 rendezvous. A Progress cargo ship is attached on the left, a Soyuz manned spacecraft attached on the right. Image ID: STS089-340-035

The station was the first consistently inhabited long-term research station in space and was operated by a series of long-duration crews. The Mir program held the record for the longest uninterrupted human presence in space, at 3,644 days, until 23 October 2010 (when it was surpassed by the ISS), and it currently holds the record for the longest single human spaceflight, of Valeri Polyakov, at 437 days 18 hours. Mir was occupied for a total of twelve and a half years of its fifteen-year lifespan, having the capacity to support a resident crew of three, and larger crews for short-term visits.

A view of Mir from Soyuz TM-2 showing the station in its early configuration

A view of Mir from Soyuz TM-2 showing the station in its early configuration

The first module of the station, known as the core module or base block, was launched in 1986, and was followed by six further modules, all launched by Proton rockets (with the exception of the docking module). When complete, the station consisted of seven pressurised modules and several unpressurised components. Power was provided by several photovoltaic arrays mounted directly on the modules. The station was maintained at an orbit between 296 km (184 mi) and 421 km (262 mi) altitude and traveled at an average speed of 27,700 km/h (17,200 mph), completing 15.7 orbits per day.

A view of the US Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Russian Space Station Mir during STS-71 as seen by the crew of Mir EO-19 in Soyuz TM-21. Cosmonauts Anatoliy Y. Solovyev and Nikolai M. Budarin, Mir-19 Commander and Flight Engineer, respectively, temporarily undocked the Soyuz spacecraft from the cluster of Mir elements to perform a brief fly-around. They took pictures while the STS-71 crew, with Mir EO-18's three crew members aboard, undocked Atlantis for the completion of this leg of the joint activities. Solovyev and Budarin had been taxied to Mir by Atlantis.

A view of the US Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Russian Space Station Mir during STS-71 as seen by the crew of Mir EO-19 in Soyuz TM-21. Cosmonauts Anatoliy Y. Solovyev and Nikolai M. Budarin, Mir-19 Commander and Flight Engineer, respectively, temporarily undocked the Soyuz spacecraft from the cluster of Mir elements to perform a brief fly-around. They took pictures while the STS-71 crew, with Mir EO-18’s three crew members aboard, undocked Atlantis for the completion of this leg of the joint activities. Solovyev and Budarin had been taxied to Mir by Atlantis.

The station was launched as part of the Soviet Union’s manned spaceflight program effort to maintain a long-term research outpost in space, and, following the collapse of the USSR, was operated by the new Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA). As a result, the vast majority of the station’s crew were Soviet or Russian; however, through international collaborations, including the Intercosmos, Euromir and Shuttle-Mir programs, the station was made accessible to astronauts from North America, several European nations and Japan. The cost of the Mir program was estimated by former RKA General Director Yuri Koptev in 2001 as $4.2 billion over its lifetime (including development, assembly and orbital operation). The station was serviced by Soyuz spacecraft, Progress spacecraft and U.S. space shuttles, and was visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 12 different nations.

220px-Mir_reentry_photoA view of the destruction of the Soviet/Russian space station Mir
as she reentered the Earth’s atmosphere and broke up over Fiji on 23 March 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tour of Mir

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