History of Manned Flights

Orbital Complex Mir

Test Results

On December 8, 2000 the meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission in support of flights and operational use of the Mir Manned Orbital Complex was held at the Russian Aviation & Space Agency.
Work performance under the Complex Flight Test Program over the period from 1986 through 2000 has been reviewed.
It was noted that:

  • All the activities envisaged by the Flight Test Program intended for the module - based Mir station and approved in 1986 had been completed;
  • Procedures for the development, deployment and operational use of the permanently operating manned orbital complexes had been tested;
  • Scheduled research activities had been completed;
  • Duration of the Mir Complex on-orbit operational use was 3 times as long as its specified 5-year life.

Mission Program

Since the launch of core module on February 20, 1986, till March, 23, 2001 Mir Orbital Complex (Mir OC) was in operational use on orbit under the Flight Test Program of the module-based permanently manned Mir station. A total of more than 100 launches of different spacecraft and modules (including the US Shuttle launches) were performed under the Mir Complex Mission Program. In spite of some remarks made, all the launches were successful with a 100% fulfilment of the main flight tasks.
One of the Mir OC Mission Program features lay in the fact that upon orbital insertion of the core module there was a relatively long period scheduled to resupply the Complex through adding new modules to it and building up technical capabilities of the onboard systems. In an initial stage of the Mir OC operation its operational use could be provided only in a visiting mode, while its use as the permanently operating station was limited for lack of the required MCS and LSS aids.
From March 15, 1986 through May 5, 1986 the first manned flight to the Mir OC (Prime Crew 1) was carried out. In the first flight phase the activities were conducted under the Salyut and Mir Mission Program for 1986 and 1987, which was completed in December, 1987 following the launch of the Soyuz TM-4 space vehicle (Prime Crew 3).
Operation of the Mir OC permanently flying on orbit started on February 8, 1987 (Prime Crew 2).
During 1986-1987 the Complex was resupplied as scheduled with the control systems (OCS Salyut-5B, CICC gyrodines) and life support systems (Vozdukh, Elektron-V systems, MIU, etc.) to change over to its continuous manned operational use.
The Complex was deployed until it reached its final configuration on April 26, 1996 after the Priroda Module had been docked. This event marked the completion of the "Flight Test Program of the permanently Operating Manned Module - Based Mir Station". Further the Complex operated on an annually scheduled mission program. In addition to the modules envisaged by the abovementioned Program, Docking Module (DM) was incorporated in the Complex on November 25, 1995 to conduct the activities with Shuttle involved.
Before August 1999 came, the Mir OC had been operated as a permanently flying station, except for one time interval from April 27 till September 8, 1989, when there had been a changeover from the Soyuz T manned space vehicles to the Soyuz TM space vehicles.
From the middle of 1999, due to being faced with the difficulties in financing the Mir OC Mission Program, the Compex operational conditions were changed by incorporating in the Program of relatively long unmanned phases for economy reasons.
Having flown many years in manned conditions, the Mir OC was shifted to unmanned flight conditions for the first time on August 28, 1999.
As the use of control mode (OCS + gyrodines) in the absence of crew might result in a reduced control reliability, prior to changing over to the Mir OC unmanned flight a backup analog control loop was introduced and tested, which made it possible to fulfill the following tasks without MCS OCS involved:

  • Inertial stabilization;
  • Angular velocity damping;
  • Complex spinning relative to core module X and Y axes;
  • Arriving at status vector of the Mir Complex by TMI data of the Kvant Module SM-8M magnetometer or the Kvant-2 Module OSS star sensor.

Analog loop ensured control capability of the Complex by uplink commands when the OCS Failure commands pass.
Throughout its unmanned flight phase the Mir OC was operated with OCS off and maintained passive attitude control for storage batteries additional charging.
Maintenance of the required orbital altitude in this phase to prevent the Complex from deorbiting due its natural atmospheric braking was provided by generation of corrective impulses by the Progress vehicles operating as part of the Complex.

Service Life Characteristics

Initially, under the Flight Test Program, Mir was scheduled to operate up to 5 years. The station operated nearly 3 times as long (its service life reached more than 15 years).
Under the Flight Test Program, the Modules were scheduled to fly as part of Mir for a period of 3 years (1095 days). Below are given the actual operating periods of the Modules as part of the Orbital Complex (as of December 31, 2000).

Module Designation Operational use
as part of the OC, (days)
Core Module

17KS 12701

Kvant 37KE 37010 5106
Kvant-2 77KSD 17101 4134
Kristall 77KST 17201 3948
"Spektr" 77KSO 17301 2134
(749 - till depressurization)
"Priroda" 77KSI 17401 1794

Most of the onboard systems have significantly exceeded service life characteristics specified in the log books for assemblies, instruments, units and systems as a whole. There were instruments, which operated more than 10 times longer than originally specified service life.
In order to ensure a prolonged operational use of the Mir OC, a special procedure was adopted envisaging extension of its operating period on an annual basis with generation of the required special reports on the systems, as well as final conclusion of General Designer. In so doing, it was allowed to operate the systems with exhausted service life and use them until failure occurs ensuring the required reliability and safety level.

Major work performance

  • All activities foreseen by the Flight Test Program of Permanent Man-Tended Modular-type MIR Station with regard to validation of development, assembly and operation for permanent man-tended orbital complexes, and scheduled research activities were completed in accordance with the approved program.
  • Process of an on-orbit long duration operation of the orbital man-tended complexes was tested, that provides a combination of the functionality assessment and maintenance measures with an assurance of a needed level of reliability and safety.
  • A great program of the science and application research was fulfilled, including the International Cooperation Program, that was considerably superior to the investigations and experiments originally foreseen by the flight test program.
  • A transfer from the Soyuz T manned transport vehicle to the modified Soyuz TM vehicle was made provided by the Salyut-7 and Mir Flight Program in 1986 and 1987. In addition since August 1989 the Progress cargo vehicle was replaced with the modifed Progress M, and since February 2000 a new modification of the Progress M1 vehicle having improved performances in terms of propellant reserves delivered to the Station was added.
  • The U.S. Shuttle vehicles were used into the MIR OC Program. The Shuttle flights were performed on a commercial basis as part of the International Space Station Assembly, Phase I.
  • Docking compartment 316 (to support the Shuttle activities), outboard propulsion system (to provide roll control), a number of deployable truss structures were added to the MIR OC.
  • A task of developing and operating the permanent on-orbit long-duration man-tended station was first virtually resolved.
  • The experience gained and solutions made formed a basis and were used for developing the International Space Station.

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