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SPACE TODAY ONLINE ~~ COVERING SPACE FROM EARTH TO THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE
Highlights of Mir Space Station's
15 Years in Orbit
As the crown jewel of the space program of the former Soviet Union, Mir station floated in orbit above Earth for fifteen years from 1986 to 2001.
A Soviet rocket carrying the first module for the Mir blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The new station has six docking ports for spacecraft and laboratory modules. The first Mir crew, Leonid Kizim and Vladimir Soloviev, fly in a Soyuz capsule from the station's predecessor station, Salyut-7, to the new station.
Kvant-1, an add-on module, is the first addition to Mir. After a rendezvous failure, the two Mir cosmonauts inside Mir spacewalk outside the station where they find and remove a bag of trash wedged in the docking port. Docking of Kvant then proceeds.
Astronauts return to Mir after a four-month hiatus due to trouble with Soyuz transport ships at Baikonur.
Kvant-2 is added to Mir. This 19-ton module has a large airlock which improves spacewalking capabilities.
Japanese journalist Toyohiro Akiyama of the Tokyo Broadcasting System visits Mir briefly and reports from the station.
Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev reaches Mir for a mission of more than one year three months during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Later, he became the first Russian to fly on the U.S. space shuttle and, even later, one of the first three residents of International Space Station Alpha.
Great Britain's Helen Sharman visits Mir on a privately financed trip. She is a chocolate researcher for a candy company who had won a contest to become Britain's first astronaut.
A Progress supply vessel separates from Mir and unfurls a giant banner of foil, which Russian researchers hoped could be used to shine sunlight on Arctic cities during dark winters.
Mir resident Valery Polyakov sets a record of 438 days in space.
American astronaut Norman Thagard goes to Mir.
Another module is added to Mir and the first U.S. space shuttle arrives at Mir to take astronaut Thagard and two cosmonauts back to Earth.
American astronaut Shannon Lucid arrives at Mir.
Ten years after its construction in space began, Mir station is completed with the arrival of a module named Priroda.
American astronaut John Blaha arrives at Mir.
American astronaut Jerry Linenger arrives at Mir.
An oxygen-generating canister bursts into flames during a routine ignition forcing the two cosmonauts on board to fight a fire. The fire filled the station and its emergency Soyuz escape capsule with smoke, forcing comsonauts Vasiliy Tsibliev and Alexander Lazutkin to put on gas masks and put out the fire.
American astronaut Mike Foale arrives at Mir.
Tsibliev and Lazutkin faced deadly danger again when, during a docking test, a cargo ship crashed into Mir. It was the worst collision ever in space. The impact created a hissing air leak, which the two miraculously located and sealed off.
American astronaut David Wolf arrives at Mir.
Andy Thomas, the last American to stay aboard Mir, leaves for earth.
As Proton rocket ferries the first segment of the new international space station Alpha to orbit -- the Russian module Zarya -- NASA presses the Russian space agency to bring Mir down from orbit, because of concerns over the aging station's safety.
The 27th crew to Mir lands back on Earth. No replacement crew is sent up.
Financed by MirCorp -- private investors hoping to keeping Mir alive as a destination for wealthy tourists -- cosmonauts Alexander Kaleri and Sergei Zaletin travel up to Mir to become the last two persons to live on the old station. They come down to Earth after a two-month stay. A U.S. businessman buys a roundtrip ticket for $20 million.
As the first Alpha crew prepares to fly to the new International Space Station, Russia decides to bring Mir down in March 2001. The concept of Mir as a space hotel ends.
February 20, 2001
Mir completes 15 years in orbit, surpassing its planned life of less than five years.
Mir ends in a fiery descent as the Russians command the old station to a lower orbit. Most of the 130-ton outpost burns up over the South Pacific between Australia and Chile, although 30 tons may have survived re-entry through Earth's atmosphere to splash into the ocean.
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