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The last expedition to MIR

April 4, 2020

Twenty years ago, on April 4, 2000, the Soyuz TM-30 transportation spacecraft carrying the crew of the last 28th prime expedition to the Mir station lifted off from the Baikonur Launch Site. The flight of Sergei Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri completed a long history of man-tended operation of the multi-module orbital complex developed under the lead and control of NPO Energia (now S.P. Korolev RSC Energia).

By the beginning of the 21st century the unique Mir station stayed in orbit in an unmanned mode, its onboard systems required an urgent maintenance, and the economic depression threatened with the final closeout of the national program in favor of the promising International Space Station project. Under these conditions, the Soyuz TM-30 man-tended mission became the final attempt to maintain the Mir orbital complex as an independent basis for Russia permanent presence in space.

On April 6, the Soyuz TM-30 crew performed a manual docking to the uninhabited station and proceeded to its activation and emergency recovery of the equipment functionality, on which the fate of the Mir station depended. During a 70-day flight the cosmonauts carried out necessary onboard repair and maintenance operations, recovered the leaks in the living compartment of the core module and organized a series of scientific and technical experiments with an egress into space. Furthermore, the participants of the 28th expedition received two Progress logistics vehicles and completed several orbital maneuvers to maintain the station at a safe altitude.

On June 16, 2000 Sergey Zalyotin and Alexander Kaleri returned to the ground, having successfully accomplished the task of extending the active life of the Mir orbital complex.

For information:

The first in the world multi-purpose modular manned orbital complex "Mir" was developed in the 1980s based on the experience of long-duration Salyut series orbital stations. The Mir was intended for long-duration flights of rotating 2-3 cosmonaut crews with the aim of carrying out commercial-technological, biomedical, geophysical, astrophysical and other experiments and research in space conditions.

NPO Energia was a prime developer of the Mir OC. A total of about 200 enterprises and organizations took part in development of the Mir station and its ground infrastructure.

The Mir assembly in the near-earth orbit began with the launch of the core module on February 20, 1986. Later on, the Kvant, Kvant-2, Kristall, Spectr, Priroda modules and docking compartment for receiving NASA Space Shuttles were integrated in the orbital complex, and Soyuz TM and Progress-M series transport vehicles were used as crew and cargo transportation vehicles. The overall mass of the complex in its full configuration was above 125 tons, the overall volume of pressurized compartments was about 400 cubic meters.

Over the entire period of operation more than 100 cosmonauts and astronauts visited the Mir station. Seventy eight spacewalks were completed, and more than 23,000 scientific experiments and research were performed under the Russian and International programs.

On March 23, 2001 the Mir station was de-orbited and splashed down in the uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean as a result of resource depletion, depreciation and insufficient funding.

 

 

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