What’s Russian for Peace?
February 20, 1986: Launch of Mir Space Station
On this day in 1986 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.
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. It 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).
The station was the first consistently inhabited long-term research station in space and was operated by a series of long-duration crews. 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.
When complete, the station consisted of seven pressurized modules and several unpressurised components. Power was provided by several photovoltaic arrays mounted directly on the modules. The station traveled at an average speed of 27,700 km/h (17,200 mph), completing 15.7 orbits per day.
The vast majority of the station’s crew were Soviet or Russian; however the station was made accessible to astronauts from North America, several European nations and Japan. 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.