Orbital Focus - International Spaceflight Facts and Figures
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Mir Space Station

Tyneside, UK
2024 Jul 24
Wednesday, Day 206

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The Mir Orbital Complex

The Mir core module spent over fifteen years in orbit - three times its originally designed age. Starting in 1986, the intention was to build it up to a near-130 tonne complex in a relatively short space of time. In the event, it was a whole ten years before the final module arrived on orbit.

Mir complex - NASA photographThe main semi-Permanent structure of Mir consisted of the core module, launched in 1986, that was then built up by the launching and addition of further modules over time. While Mir itself was based on the Korolyov Bureau's DOS stations, the add-on modules originated in Chelomei's Almaz programme and the TKS pacecraft.

Crews travelled to the station using the Soyuz spacecraft and were kept supplied by spacecraft of the Progress type. Later in its life, Mir was visited by US crews, arriving by Space Shuttle. The United States took the opportunity to experience long stays in space prior to the arrival in orbit of the International Space Station.


KvantX-ray and UV astronomy but also carried additional gyroscopes, Kvant was originally intended to be added to Salyut 7
Kvant 2fitted with a large-diameter airlock and contained an experimental manoeuvring unit for use by a space suited astronaut
KristallMicro-gravity research laboratory, also equipped with an androgynous docking unit intended for use with 'Buran', the Soviet space shuttle
SpektrEarth observation platform for climatic studies, it was disabled in 1997 in a collision with Progress M-34
PrirodaEarth observation platform for remote sensing (Earth Resources)
Docking Moduledelivered by US Space Shuttle specifically for use in Shuttle docking, attached to the androgynous docking port of the Kristall module

The End

Mir is now gone - its descent from orbit 2001 March 23 was the subject of much attention from the public and the press, marking as it it did the end of an era in spaceflight history.
The table below lists some of Mir's highlights.

Date Time (UTC) Event
1986 Feb 19 21:28 Mir space station launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome by Proton rocket into 172 x 301 kilometre orbit, in the same orbital plane as Salyut 7
1986 Mar 7 Mir now in 333 x 342 kilometre orbit
1987 Apr 9 00:35 Kvant docks with Mir rear port but the docking latches fail to hold because an obstruction prevents the two craft from being pulled together - orbit is 344 x 363 kilometres
1987 Apr 12 20:18 While Romanenko and Laveikin watch, Kvant and Mir complete their docking
1989 Dec 6 12:21 Kvant 2 docks with Mir forward port - orbit is 394 x 398 kilometres
1990 Jun 10 10:47 Kristall docks with Mir forward port - orbit is 376 x 391 kilometres
1995 Jun 1 00:58 Spektr docks with Mir forward port - orbit is 391 x 396 kilometres
1995 Nov 18 18:15 Atlantis undocks from Mir carring Cameron, Halsell, Ross, McArthur and Hadfield - it leaves behind the shuttle Orbiter Docking System module for use by future shuttle docking missions- - Atlantis performs a flyaround of Mir before departing
1996 Apr 26 12:43 Priroda docks with Mir forward port - orbit is 391 x 396 kilometres
2000 Oct 3 Russia announces that Mir will be abandoned due to lack of both government and private funding
2000 Dec 27 Approximate date - Mir's managers announce an emergency crew that will be launched, if necessary, to assist with the de-orbiting - it consists of cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Nikolai Budarin
2001 Jan 24 04:28 Progress M1-5 cargo supply ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome by Soyuz-U rocket for rendezvous with Mir - its mission is to bring about a controlled re-entry and destruction of the space station
2001 Jan 24 04:37 Progress M1-5 separates from its rocket and enters 190 x 231 kilometre orbit at 51.6 degrees inclination
2001 Jan 24 10:30 Approximate time - Progress M1-5 raises its orbit to 194 x 250 kilometres
2001 Jan 27 05:33 Progress M1-5 docks automatically with the rear port of Kvant - orbit is 339 x 355 kilometres
2001 Jan 27 Mir's managers decide after the successful docking by Progress M1-5 that the emergency crew will not be needed
2001 Mar 23 00:32 Mir orbit is 212 x 217 kilometres at 51.6 degrees inclination - Progress M1-5 fires its manoeuvring thrusters for 21 minutes to begin the de-orbit process
2001 Mar 23 02:01 Mir orbit is 190 x 219 kilometres - Progress M1-5 fires its manoeuvring thrusters for a further 23 minutes
2001 Mar 23 05:07 Mir orbit is 151 x 215 kilometres - Progress M1-5 fires its manoeuvring thrusters and its main thrust chamber for a further 23 minutes and ensure re-entry
2001 Mar 23 05:43 Re-entry heating starts the burn-up of Mir
2001 Mar 23 05:48 Mir is a little over 80 kilometres above the Earth and is sheathed in glowing plasma generated by frictional heating - passage of the individual modules, which have separated from each other, is observed from the ground in Fiji
2001 Mar 23 05:50 Burning fragmentsof Mir are seen from Fiji
2001 Mar 23 05:59 Any major surviving fragments of the Mir Complex hit the Pacific Ocean surface near 40 degrees South, 160 degrees West
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