Russian space station, the core of which was launched on 20 February 1986. It was permanently occupied until 1999, and then purposely brought down on 23 March 2001 to crash into the Pacific Ocean. During its life, Mir travelled more than 3 billion km/2 billion mi, and was home to 104 cosmonauts.
The world's first modular space station, Mir weighed 135 tonnes and its core, weighing 20.9 tonnes, had four compartments for work, living, the engines, and docking. Mir evolved from, and somewhat resembled, the earlier series of Salyut space stations, but carried several improvements. Instead of one docking port there were six, four of which eventually had scientific and technical modules attached to them. The first was the 11-tonne Kvant (Russian ‘quantum’) astrophysics module in 1987. Mir had expanded to six modules by the early 1990s. The space shuttle Atlantis docked on 27 June 1995, exchanging crew members in the first of nine joint US-Russian missions to the station. A small wheat crop, the first successful cultivation of a plant from seed in space, was harvested on 6 December 1996.
During its orbiting life, Mir suffered more than 1,500 problems, including a fire in 1997, but all these were overcome by its crew. The most serious was a collision with an uncrewed cargo ship in June 1997, which damaged a solar panel and temporarily depressurized one of the modules.
The station's many residents included Valeri Poliakov, who established a space-endurance record of 14 months from January 1994 to March 1995; Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, in May 1991; and Japanese journalist Toyohiro Akiyama, the first passenger in space, in December 1990.
History of Shuttle-Mir
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