History of Manned Flights

Orbital Complex Mir

Applied Research

By mid-1996, following the Priroda Module launch and docking with the Mir OC, its final configuration as the research complex outfitted with a unigue scientific hardware was formed.
The Complex incorporated 7 modules housing during its operation period scientific hardware of more than 27 designations and produced by 27 countries, with a total mass equal to 11.5 tons. In addition, taking into account auxiliary hardware and support aids, a total mass of the Complex with payloads amounted to 14 tons.
This scientific hardware complex ensured conducting fundamental and applied research into nine different scientific-technical areas.
In particular, this unique scientific hardware complex incorporated the following:

  • large environmental study complex composed of the 24 active and passive instruments designed for earth observation and operating in visible, infra-red and microwave spectrum ranges;
  • astrophysical observatory housing 6 telescopes and spectrometers;
  • four process furnaces, 6 medical diagnostic systems;
  • materials science and biotechnological hardware.

Assigning Scientific Equipment to the Modules

  • Core module - 26%;
  • Kvant - 10%;
  • Kvant-2 - 10%;
  • Cristall - 13%;
  • Spectr - 20%;
  • Priroda - 21%.

Creation of such unprecedented, even to modern measures, on-orbit research complex became possible due to comprehensive approach to modular construction of the Mir orbital station laid as far back as at its design stage. This approach was not a casual choice, it was the result of the 35-year operation experience on development and purpose use of manned orbital vehicles and stations, as well as heavy use of accumulated substantial experience in all lines of research and engineering activities in space. Many enterprises and organizations of the former USSR, institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences and foreign participating countries have made a substantial contribution to this experience.

Science Hardware Allocation between Research Lines

  • Medicine and biotechnology - 1399 kg;
  • Engineering - 2722 kg;
  • Technology - 938 kg;
  • Astrophysics - 1993 kg;
  • Biotechnology - 655 kg;
  • Geophysics - 312 kg;
  • Earth resourse sensing - 3379 kg;
  • Materials science - 171 kg.

The station flight program generation through combination of prime expeditions providing crew permanent stay on board with more short-term visiting expeditions made possible operational planning of the research program depending on modified priorities of tasks to be solved and hardware readiness. Owing to this it has become possible to change operatively the lines of research on demand of experiment customers and suppliers and to extend them in the course of the station flight taking into account interests of other research institutions and countries.
Throughout the station operation period the experiment were being implemented in accordance with long-term programs of applied scientific research approved by directive bodies.
In 2000 the experiments were conducted in accordance with the "Agreement." between RSC Energia and MirCorp on a lease of the Mir OC resources. The financing of the flight of the 28th prime expedition was performed on a commercial basis.
For lack of financing to continue the man-tended flight the Mir OC was transferred to an autonomous flight mode from mid-June 2000.
Development and agreement of the last Federal program of applied scientific research scheduled for implementation aboard the Mir on-orbit complex at the period of 1997-1999 was performed in close cooperation with the Coordination Scientific and Technological Board that was established in 1994 by the joint decision of RSA and RAS.

Shares of Different Countries in Science Hardware Supply

In essence, the Mir manned station not only concentrated the experience of solving various applied tasks in orbital flight conditions but also extended the sphere of applying scientific methods in space, that had been beyond the reach of Mankind before.
When performing research, a thorny, not simple way has been passed: from 1.5 ton of science hardware used to perform astrophysics observations aboard the Salyut orbital station to 11.5 ton of special-purpose loads of the Mir station.

  • Russia - 6490 kg;
  • USA - 2664 kg;
  • Germany - 845 kg;
  • France - 668 kg;
  • Belgium - 240 kg;
  • ESA - 212 kg;
  • Austria - 155 kg;
  • Holland - 125 kg;
  • Czech Republic - 96 kg;
  • Bulgaria - 50 kg;
  • Azerbaijan - 24 kg.

The Number of Implemented Programs


  • Russian milestone programs in the course of prime expeditions

  • Programs within international cooperation, including:
  • USA programs

    France programs

    Kazakhstan programs

    Germany programs

    ESA programs
  • Programs of:
    Syria, Bulgaria, Afghanistan, Great Britain, Japan, Austria, Slovakia








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The Mir station has essentially become an international on-orbit research laboratory. The major portion of experiments in medical, biological and bio-engineering lines of research were implemented within the international cooperation. More than 7500 sessions of the total number of 31200 were performed with the use of foreign hardware.

Effective Utilization of MIR Orbital Complex Hardware

It should be noted that in 1995, in spite of a persisting tendency of decreasing the state financing, the down trend of experiments performed aboard the Mir OC that had began in 1989, stopped. Insufficient funds were compensated for by RSC Energia through of Contract activities.
More than 60% of the entire scope of research both under the Russian, and International programs were performed on the MIR Station from 1995 through 2000.
Within the final period (1997 - 2000) after the MIR final configuration as a research laboratory was completed, 138 space experiments were implemented under the science and application research program.
In the end-of-flight phase 161 items of science hardware were available aboard MIR Orbital Complex. Among these were:

  • Operational hardware

  • Hardware located in the Spektr Module

  • Hardware which was no longer operated
    (due to the completion of an experiment,
    expiry of warranty period of SH operation)

  • Hardware to be tested and validated





During the science hardware preparation for the MIR OC unmanned flight 154 items of science hardware were deactivated (deactivation was carried out in accordance with the Lead Operational Control Team approved documentation). Part of the hardware was transferred to the Core Module from other modules in order to keep its functionality.
Within the 15-year MIR OC flight period despite of the off-nominal situations occurred and continuously deteriorating budgetary funding more than 31200 experiment sessions were performed in the basic areas of research. Among these more than 23600 sessions were conducted under the federal program.
New results were acquired within this period, which both made a major contribution to the national fundamental science and are of high practical value in terms of their implementation in various branches of the national economy, education, public health, development and improvement of space facilities accompanied by a wide information distribution about the research results of the Russian International Science Communities in the form of numerous publications and reports at the National and International Conferences.
As a result of implementing all research programs on the Station from 1986 through 2000 :

  • the content of science information that was downlinked via the telemetry channels was 1690 Gbyte
  • the total mass of the returned cargoes with the experiment results was more than 4700 kg.

Research Results

The main results of the research conducted on the MIR Station in various areas encompass:


  • More than 6700 experiment sessions were conducted on the Station
  • Unique technology for on-orbit assembly and deployment of the truss and film large structures was tested
  • Methods and equipment for conducting repair and refurbishment activities were tested to extend the Station and hardware service life
  • Stable ordered crystal structures formed by metal particles in direct current discharge plasma in microgravity conditions were obtained
  • Processes of generation, collection and motion of monodisperse drops were investigated on a drip refrigerator-radiator model to validate the possibility of producing high-effective power facilities.

Materials Science and Space Technology

  • More than 2450 experiment sessions were conducted
  • Basic production processes for semiconductor materials were tested, prototypes were produced which are superior to the ground analogs in physical characteristics
  • A 5-to-10 times increase of the yield of effective devices made of the produced materials was confirmed
  • Characteristics of selected materials for a long duration operation of the Station were verified.

Life Science

  • The medical support system was developed for up to 1.5-year flights
  • The procedure for selecting and training specialists for operations in extreme conditions was developed
  • A number of systems and methods was implemented into the general-medical practice.


  • More that 130 experiment sessions were conducted
  • A capability of conducting fine purification and splitting of protein bioproducts at an output rate hundreds of times higher than that on the ground was demonstrated
  • New knowledge about cells, proteins and viruses was acquired.

Earth Resources Sensing and Ecological Monitoring

  • Photo imagery of 125 Mkm2 of the Earth surface in various spectrum areas was conducted
  • Hardware systems of real-time measurements and data downlink were tested (more than 400 sessions were conducted)
  • A data bank of photo, video, spectrometry and radiometry information was created.


  • About 6200 experiment sessions were performed
  • A unique observation was conducted, and a hard X-radiation of Supernova 1987A was detected
  • X-ray sources named Kvant Source were opened and investigated in detail
  • The center of Galaxy was investigated in detail.

International Cooperation

  • 7600 experiment sessions were performed in the area of life science, biology, technology, engineering, biotechnology
  • 27 International missions were accomplished, 21 of these missions were performed on a commercial basis
  • Representatives from 12 countries and organizations from the USA, Germany, England, France, Japan, Austria, Bulgaria, Syria, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, ESA worked on the Station.

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