Space Station Mir: The Love and Loss of Earth’s First Space Station
When we think about space stations the first name that comes to mind to most of us is the International Space Station (ISS). However, a space station that is often forgotten but was important to us is a space station called Mir. Space Station Mir lasted 15 years, three times it’s expected lifespan, and even outlasted the Soviet Union who launched it into space. The Russian word “mir” literally translates to peace, world, or village. It’s a fitting name as it was a host for many crewmembers and international visitors. What’s interesting about Mir that some may not know is that it was the first to raise a crop in outer space from a seed.
Space Station Mir carried a lot of strong feelings such as joyous reunions, feats of courage, determination, moments of panic, and heartache. There were times it suffered a violent fire, a nearly catastrophic collision, and horrifying periods of out-of-control tumbling. Mir was a symbol for Soviet Union or what eventually became Russia. It set the grand thoughts in motion and actually brought the world closer together. In a time where Earth had experienced wars and deaths, Space Station Mir was a beacon that when it comes to life beyond the blue marble we can come together and unite. Funny enough Mir instilled a legend that it was controversial and paradoxical. Some people considered it to be “vulnerable” and others considered it to be “robust.”
Quoted from NASA’s history website: “NASA-4 Mir Astronaut Jerry Linenger compared Mir to ‘six school buses all hooked together. It was as if four of the buses were driven into a four-way intersection at the same time. They collided and became attached. All at right angles to each other, these four buses made up the four Mir science modules…'” Mir set every record in long duration space flight. Physician Valeri Polyakov lived on board for a single stay of 437 days! Not only that but in 1999 Sergei Avdeyev stayed on board for a total of 747 days. The research from both people, and among others who stayed, were very valuable to learning how to live in space or microgravity environments.
The End of Mir and a Bright Future for Space Stations
Like how all good things must come to an end, Mir was built on a sinking foundation. Without more funding Mir couldn’t last any longer with the main focus and funding being directed to the International Space Station. Many Russians actually rallied together to keep Mir afloat and the Russian state Duma called for the firing of Yuri Koptev from his post as the head of Russia’s aerospace agency. Eventually, the Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed a resolution calling for Mir to be sunk into the ocean, early in 2001.
There were many concerns of Mir’s flight path circling over many populated areas. Russia did acquire insurance incase there were any physical damage done and Japan also kept a close watch on it because it’s final orbit would pass right over it. Around 9 A.M on March 23rd, the 134-ton Space Station Mir broke up over the Southern Pacific ocean and some of the larger pieces harmlessly landed in the ocean. Pieces of the space station landed in Canada, Australia, and southern South America, albeit fortunately without any damages or casualties. Anatoly Solovyev, who stayed on Mir for 651 days, said this: “I am especially sad these days. An entire era of our Soviet space program is ending, into which we invested not only our money but, what is more important, our intellectual potential.”
For more information read here: http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4225/mir/mir.htm