Mir, the first continuously inhabited long-term research station in orbit

Mir, the first continuously inhabited long-term research station in orbit Culture's Ways

Mir (lit. peace or world) was a space station that operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, operated by the Soviet Union and later by Russia.


What is Mir?

Mir was the first modular space station and was assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996. It had a greater mass than any previous spacecraft. At the time it was the largest artificial satellite in orbit, succeeded by the International Space Station after Mir’s orbit decayed. The station served as a microgravity research laboratory in which crews conducted experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and spacecraft systems with a goal of developing technologies required for permanent occupation of space.

Mir was the first continuously inhabited long-term research station in orbit and held the record for the longest continuous human presence in space at 3,644 days, until it was surpassed by the ISS on 23 October 2010. It holds the record for the longest single human spaceflight, with Valeri Polyakov spending 437 days and 18 hours on the station between 1994 and 1995. Mir was occupied for a total of twelve and a half years out of its fifteen-year lifespan, having the capacity to support a resident crew of three, or larger crews for short visits.

The station was launched as part of the Soviet Union’s manned spaceflight programme effort to maintain a long-term research outpost in space, and following the collapse of the USSR, was operated by the new Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA). As a result, most of the station’s occupants were Soviet; through international collaborations such as the Intercosmos, Euromir and Shuttle–Mir programmes, the station was made accessible to space travelers from several Asian, European and North American nations. Mir was deorbited in March 2001 after funding was cut off. The cost of the Mir programme was estimated by former RKA General Director Yuri Koptev in 2001 as $4.2 billion over its lifetime (including development, assembly and orbital operation).


Several accidents occurred which threatened the station’s safety, such as the glancing collision between Kristall and Soyuz TM-17 during proximity operations in January 1994. The three most alarming incidents occurred during EO-23. The first was on 23 February 1997 during the handover period from EO-22 to EO-23, when a malfunction occurred in the backup Vika system, a chemical oxygen generator later known as solid-fuel oxygen generator (SFOG). The Vika malfunction led to a fire which burned for around 90 seconds (according to official sources at the TsUP; astronaut Jerry Linenger insists the fire burned for around 14 minutes), and produced large amounts of toxic smoke that filled the station for around 45 minutes. This forced the crew to don respirators, but some of the respirator masks initially worn were broken. Some of the fire extinguishers mounted on the walls of the newer modules were immovable.

Image: Public Domain
Text: Wikipedia contributors. “Mir.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Jul. 2017. Web. 9 Aug. 2017.

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