Me (space station)

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Space station Mir
Me in earth orbit
Me in earth orbit
Mission data
(basic module)
February 19, 1986
21:28:23 UTC
Baikonur 200/39
Re-entry: March 23, 2001
05:50 UTC
Crews: 28 long-term crews
Manned in orbit: 4,594 days
Total in orbit: 5,511 days
Earth orbits: 86,325
Apogee: 393 km
Perigee: 385 km
Rotation time: 89.1 min
Orbit inclination: 51.6 °
Covered track: 3,638,470,307 km
Habitable Volume: 350 m³
Total mass: 124,340 kg
NSSDC ID: 1986-017A
Configuration diagram
Modules of the space station Mir
Modules of the space station Mir
Space station Mir

The Mir ( Russian Мир , 'peace' or 'world') was a manned space station built by the Soviet Union that orbited the earth from 1986 until its controlled crash in 2001 . After the Mir was only used by the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc states connected to it in the first few years , there was also cooperation with other states , as was the case with the Salyut 7 space station before. For the Mir-Aragatz mission , a Frenchman flew again to a Soviet space station, followed by a Japanese, a British and an Austrian. The preparations for the Mir 92 mission with the German Klaus-Dietrich Flade also began during the Soviet Union.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union , the Russian space agency Roskosmos continued to operate the space station and continued successful international cooperation, also with western states and their space agencies. The collaboration with NASA culminated in the Shuttle Mir program , in which Russian cosmonauts also flew to the Mir in a shuttle.

In its time, the Mir space station was the largest artificial object in Earth orbit and - with the Sputnik satellite in 1957 and Yuri Gagarin's first flight in 1961 - is considered one of the greatest successes in Soviet and Russian space travel .

Construction and construction

The Mir was the first space station designed for permanent and scientific operation. The Soviet Union operated several Salyut- type stations in the 1970s and early 1980s that served military and scientific objectives and were used for up to four years. In contrast to these, the Mir had a modular structure and was assembled from several parts launched one after the other over the course of ten years in space. Six more modules have been added to the main module. All modules were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with Proton rockets , except for the docking module for the space shuttle. It came into space on the US ferry Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center .

Long-term missions with manned space stations were seen as a means for the Soviet Union to gain international renown after the lost race to the moon . In this respect, too, they broke new ground with the Mir - by Soviet standards. Immediately after the start of the basic module, it was made public. Details of the new station were readily given, also to the western press. The start of the first crew was even announced in advance - the first time on a flight without international participation. With the Skylab missions, the USA only had one project for a space station in its program.

For years the Mir was the only permanent outpost of humanity in space . In addition to many scientific experiments, experience was mainly gained from long-term stays in space. Individual cosmonauts stayed in the station for more than a year, significantly shifting the level of long-term records.

The modular structure of the Mir was adopted for the International Space Station (ISS) built later . Your module Zvezda is a modified version of the basic block of Me.

The basic module

The basic module (DOS-7)

Structure of the basic module

The Mir base bloc was launched on February 19, 1986 for the 27th CPSU congress . It had six coupling nozzles for transport spaceships and expansion modules - the predecessors had two nozzles. The Mir was designed from the start as a long-term and larger project. Four of these nozzles were used to dock additional modules, the two axial connections were used for manned Soyuz spaceships and unmanned Progress spaceships . The latter was used to supply the station with food, water, fuel and material, the Mir train was regularly raised again and waste and disused material were disposed of. A permanently docked Soyuz spaceship served the crew as a “lifeboat” in order to abandon the station in an emergency and return to Earth. For safety reasons, the crew had to visit the Soyuz spacecraft while another spacecraft was docking. The capacity of a maximum of three cosmonauts per spaceship limited the number of people working on the station.

Training session of the basic module, inside view

The basic module served as the crew's living area and lounge area and had hygienic facilities for the crew and the technical facilities for control, situation control and communication. Its launch mass was 20.4 tons with a total length of 13.30 meters and a diameter of 4.20 meters. The energy was supplied via solar modules. Using free coupling adapters, it was possible to leave the station for external use. The regular crew consisted of two or three cosmonauts. It was temporarily supplemented by a three-person visiting team. Parts of the equipment were taken over from the Salyut 7, the last station of the previous type, as part of the Soyuz T-15 mission . This meant that two Soviet space stations were in orbit at the same time for five years, of which - with the exception of a few weeks - only the Mir was used.

With DOS-8, an identical backup module to DOS-7 was created, which was intended for the Mir-2 after the successful start of DOS-7 . After a number of plan changes, the modified module was finally used on the ISS under the name Zvezda.

The science module Kwant

The Kwant module was launched on March 31, 1987, after a delay in the docking maneuver, docked at the station on April 9, making it the first module to expand the space station. In contrast to the following modules, Kwant did not dock at the coupling node, but directly at the final position in the longitudinal axis at the rear of the base module. One day later, the crew of the Mir ( Juri Romanenko and Alexander Lawejkin ) entered the new module and put it into operation. Kwant served scientific work, mainly astrophysical studies. Since it occupied one of the two axial docking points, Kwant had a further docking point for Soyuz or Progress spaceships as well as appropriate pumps and lines to forward the fuel that had been delivered to the base module. The launch mass was eleven tons, the length 5.30 meters and the diameter 4.35 meters. In 1992 a solar sail from the Kristall module was installed on Kwant until a new solar system was installed in 1995.

The science module Kwant 2

Kwant 2 module

The Kwant 2 module was started on November 26, 1989 and ten days later it was connected to the side of the coupling module of the base block. It was used for optical observation of the earth and for biotechnological experiments. In addition, it had facilities for the personal hygiene of the cosmonauts, life support facilities and an improved exit lock. Further solar cells supplemented the energy supply. The take-off mass was 19.6 tons with a length of 12.20 meters.

The science module crystal (Kwant 3)

crystal module

The third module, Kristall , was launched on May 31, 1990 and ten days later it was connected to the base module's coupling point across from Kwant 2. Crystal was essentially built for biological and material science experiments. Two additional androgynous docking nozzles were provided for the planned space shuttle Buran and a telescope , which was also planned , but were never used for it.

On June 29, 1995, the space shuttle “Atlantis” docked there (mission STS-71 ). For this, crystal had to be moved to the axial position on the Mir coupling adapter, so that the space shuttle did not touch and damage the Mir or its superstructures. After that, the crystal had to be moved back to its original position to clear the axial docking point for Soyuz spaceships and Progress feeders.

Like Kwant 2, Kristall had additional solar cells . Weight and dimensions were the same as those of Kwant 2. In order to simplify the docking of the space shuttle and to create space for the Spectrum module, it was later moved 90 degrees to another connector and a special shuttle docking module was added. One of the solar panels was moved to the Kwant module in 1992.

The science module spectr

The module spectr

The Spectrum module was started on May 20, 1995 and, twelve days later, it was connected to the base block at the location of the crystal module. Spektr had facilities for researching the earth's atmosphere, geophysical processes and cosmic rays. For the first time, scientific equipment from NASA was on board for the planned Shuttle Mir program . With its four solar modules arranged in an X-shape, Sp exc was very different from the other modules. The take-off weight of 20 tons was the same as that of the other modules; at around 14 meters, SpTR was the longest of all six modules. In an accident on June 25, 1997, it was so badly damaged that it could only be used for energy supply.

The docking module for the space shuttle (Shuttle Docking Module)

The docking module

With the US space shuttle Atlantis , a docking module was brought into space on November 13, 1995 and connected to the crystal module three days later. The 4.70-meter-long component made docking easier compared to the previously used dock on the Buran. The module was used eight times in a total of eleven Shuttle Mir missions. Once you docked directly to the crystal, twice there was an approach in space without coupling.

The Priroda research module

Priroda module

With the Priroda module launched on April 23, 1996 and the coupling on the base block opposite the Kristall module three days later, the expansion of the Mir reached its final stage. Priroda had facilities for remote sensing and research on microgravity . With a length of twelve meters and a weight of 19 tons, its dimensions corresponded to the Kwant 2 and Kristall modules.

In the last stage of expansion, the Mir had a total mass of around 135 tons, a span of 31 meters and a total length of 33 meters.

The use

The space station was visited by a total of 96 cosmonauts. Nineteen of them entered the station twice, Alexander Viktorenko four times and Anatoly Solovyov five times. The Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov spent the longest time on board : he worked 679 days on board the Mir. From January 1994 to May 1995, he set a new record of 438 days in space for the human time spent in space on a mission. The long period was also seen as a test for a possible manned flight to Mars - the flight to the red planet takes about a year.

1986 - The first crew

The first crew of the Soyuz T-15 expedition with cosmonauts Leonid Kisim and Vladimir Solovyov started on March 13, 1986 and entered the station two days later to put it into operation. One of the tasks was to unload and install the equipment delivered by the Progress 25 and 26 cargo ships . As a special feature, a 50-day trip to the Salyut 7 space station was undertaken to maintain it and to take over some of the equipment for the Mir. This flight of a crew between two space stations is unique to this day. After returning to earth on July 16, 1986, the Mir station remained unoccupied for more than half a year.

1987 to 1989

With the Soyuz TM-2 mission and the cosmonauts Juri Romanenko and Alexander Lawejkin , who left Baikonur on February 5, 1987, the first period of more than two years began in which the station was continuously manned by changing teams. It ended in April 1989 with the Soyuz TM-7 mission . During these years, the Syrian Muhammed Achmed Faris , the Afghan Abdul Ahad Mohmand and the French Jean-Loup Chrétien were the first non-Soviet space travelers to visit the station. During this time, the station was the target of six missions, during which the Kwant module was connected and put into operation.

1989 to 1991

After an interruption of over four months - due to technical problems with the Soyuz spaceships - the Soyuz TM-8 began the second phase of use in September 1989, during which the station was permanently used for almost ten years - until August 1999 remained occupied and was expanded. Nine flights by the US space shuttle and 22 flights by Soviet Soyuz spaceships docked during this time. During this period, the political upheaval in the Soviet Union occurred, which also led to a turning point in the operation of the Mir.

The collaboration that had begun with other countries, including Western countries, was continued. In December 1990, the Japanese journalist Toyohiro Akiyama flew to the station. He was followed in 1991 by the first British astronaut Helen Sharman and the first Austrian cosmonaut Franz Viehböck .

The two cosmonauts Alexander Volkov and Sergei Krikalev entered the station as Soviet citizens and returned to Earth as Russian citizens on the Soyuz TM-13 . During her stay there, Boris Yeltsin was elected President of the Russian Federation , the August putsch in Moscow and the end of the USSR . Due to the accompanying circumstances, Krikalev had to extend his stay by half a year. He returned to earth on March 25, 1992 after 311 days.

1992 to 1999 - Die Mir under Russian management

After the political change in the states of the Soviet Union , space travelers from western countries increasingly visited the station, the operation of which was continued by Russia . With the arrival of the EO-11 mission, the new era began on board the now Russian station.

In 1992, Klaus-Dietrich Flade, the first German came (who brought a soft toy of the mouse ). He was followed on September 3, 1995 by Thomas Reiter , who was part of the 20th Mir long-term crew, followed by Reinhold Ewald in 1997 and the Frenchman Michel Tognini . In 1994, the German ESA astronaut Ulf Merbold visited Mir, who had previously been in space twice with the space shuttle.

The 22nd and 23rd crews of the MIR space station (bottom row from left: Alexander Kaleri, Jerry Linenger, Valeri Korsun ; top row from left: Wassili Ziblijew , Reinhold Ewald, Alexander Lasutkin )

Parallel to the further expansion of the station, the first American astronaut took off from Baikonur in a Soyuz spaceship to Mir in 1995 . In June of the same year the first of eleven Shuttle Mir missions began . As part of the STS-71 mission , the space shuttle Atlantis docked with the Russian space station. In September the German Thomas Reiter visited the Mir and stayed on board for 179 days. At the same time, the first art exhibition in earth orbit "Ars ad astra" took place there.

In 1996 the construction of the station with the Priroda module was completed. The longest stay of an American astronaut in space was celebrated on the Mir: John Blaha spent 118 days on the station in the same year.

The last few years

The Mir from the perspective of the space shuttle Atlantis

On November 20, 1998, the first module of the International Space Station started with Zarya . The NASA leadership tried to persuade the Russian government to give up the Mir as soon as possible. Russia decided against it for the time being, but decided not to replace the Soyuz TM-29 crew that landed on August 28, 1999 with a new one. In 1999, MirCorp was founded in the Netherlands , a company that tried to secure the survival of Mir through private funds. The considerations also included uses for space tourism .

In 1999, the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Haigneré and the first Slovak cosmonaut Ivan Bella visited Mir with Soyuz TM-29 . The Soyuz TM-30 was the last crew to leave for Mir on April 4, 2000 after it had not been used for seven months. The mission of the cosmonauts Sergej Saljotin and Alexander Kaleri , funded by MirCorp, lasted 72 days and was the 39th visit by a manned spacecraft. They carried out maintenance work to ensure that it remained in orbit. At the time of their return in June 2000, Russian space travel was still hoping to be able to operate Mir for two more years with Western funds. Hopes were dashed in view of the maintenance costs and the expense of maintaining two space stations at the same time. The official end came on October 23, 2000. The Russian proposal to use parts of the Mir to build the ISS was rejected by the US - despite the associated savings.

In the early morning hours of 23 March 2001, I was with three braking thrusts of the last Progress freighter for the controlled re-entry brought into the atmosphere. More than 1,500 un-burned debris (approx. 40 tons) from the station crashed at 6:57 a.m. southeast of the Fiji island into the Pacific Ocean . The center of the crash site was located at the coordinates 44 ° 12 'S / 150 ° F .

In its 15-year history, the station, originally designed for a service life of seven years, orbited the earth 86,325 times at an altitude of 390 kilometers above the earth's surface .

The list of manned missions to the Mir space station contains a description of all the manned space flights that space travelers took to the station on one of the Soyuz spaceships or one of the space shuttles.

Incidents and accidents

Technical "breakdowns" raised doubts about the reliability of the station towards the end of its life. Successful handling of the incidents also made it possible to gain experience that was taken into account during the construction of the International Space Station .

Damage to one of the solar panels of the Spektr module after the collision with a Progress space freighter

On 24 February 1997, an inflamed oxygen candle . Toxic smoke developed, which forced the two Russian and German spacemen Reinhold Ewald to wear oxygen masks on board . The resolute reaction of the cosmonauts prevented an early return to Earth, and the air was purified within a day. Two weeks after this incident, the primary oxygen supply failed and a switch had to be made to the secondary. Due to a defect in the attitude control system , only manual maneuvers were possible. The ailing Russian communications satellite system only allowed ten minutes of radio contact with the Moscow ground station per orbit.

Although NASA expressed its doubts about further cooperation with Russia on the Mir at the beginning of 1997, after repairing the on-board systems, the Atlantis started to the station on May 15, 1997 and replaced the American Jerry Linenger on board with Michael Foale .

One month later, on June 25, 1997, the Progress M-34 supply spaceship collided with the station due to an error while docking with TORU . The damaged Spektr module was leaking and had to be sealed. Damage to the module's solar panels caused a third of the power supply to fail. The problems on board were largely resolved two months later by a new crew.

On September 26, 1997, the Atlantis to Mir started again after fierce controversies at NASA as to whether the Shuttle Mir missions should be continued at all after the breakdown series.

As with many space stations, there were also problems with biofilms and microorganisms on the Mir.


  • Arno Fellenberg, Dirk Rensink: Das Mir-Tagebuch part 4., January 1998 - August 1999, RID, Essen 2002, ISBN 3-89714-429-8 .
  • Arno Fellenberg: Das Mir-Tagebuch part 5., September 1999 - March 2001, RID, Essen 2002, ISBN 3-89714-434-4 .
  • Hans J. Frank: Rescue the Mir . The fantastic autobiographical memoirs of Doctor F. [Roman], Projekt-Verlag, Halle (Saale) 2003, ISBN 978-3-937027-33-3 .
  • David M. Harland: The Story of Space Station Mir. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg / New York, NY / Chichester, UK 2005, ISBN 0-387-23011-4 (English).
  • Matthias Lange; Tasillo Römisch (Ed.): Space stations present and future; from Sputnik to the Columbia disaster. Elbe-Dnjepr-Verlag, Klitzschen, 2004, ISBN 978-3-933395-68-9 .
  • Andreas Schöwe: Mission Space Shuttle . Adventure space in pictures and text. Bechtermünz, Augsburg 1999, ISBN 3-8289-5357-3 .
  • Stefan Scholl: Anarchy in space . In: Brand one . No. 10, 2008, ISSN  1438-9339 ( PDF )

Web links

Wiktionary: Mir (мир)  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Mir  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The First Art Exhibition in Earth Orbit: Ars ad astra
  2. Space junk - "Mir" landed in the Pacific
  3. Mir plunges into the Pacific, accessed October 30, 2011
  4. Spaceflight Report: Soyuz TM-25. Retrieved June 5, 2020 .
  5. Julia Weiler: Germ-free in space - Katharina Stapelmann. Ruhr University Bochum, February 2, 2015, accessed on July 30, 2020 .
  6. Michèle Storrs-Mabilat: Study of a Microbial Detection System for Space Applications. ESA, July 2001, accessed July 2020 .