10 facts about the legendary Mir space station

Russia's space control struggled on December 26, 2000, to restore contact with the Mir space station, seeking to prevent a possible crash landing by the aging orbiter.

Russia's space control struggled on December 26, 2000, to restore contact with the Mir space station, seeking to prevent a possible crash landing by the aging orbiter.

Reuters
Exactly 30 years have passed since the last and most important Soviet space station went into orbit.

The first module of the famous Soviet station, Mir, was launched into orbit on February 20, 1986. The experience of its creation 30 years ago was later used to develop the International Space Station (ISS), while its plunge to the Pacific Ocean sparked rumors of a mysterious space bacteria. Here are other little-known facts about the Mir station:

1. Mir's construction involved 280 Soviet state companies, but it took the efforts of senior party officials to finish it because by 1984 a great amount of resources had been put into the Buran space shuttle program, while work on Mir had been frozen.

Soyuz-T-15 space crew: Leonid Kizim (right) and Vladimir Solovyov train for first long-duration scientific expedition to Mir orbital station at Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, 1986. Source: Alexander Mokletsov/RIA Novosti

2. Mir was the first major international station and a symbol of friendship between astronauts from different countries. It was visited by crews from the U.S., Japan, the U.K., France, Bulgaria and many other countries. Mir's first foreign guest was Syrian astronaut, Muhammed Faris, in 1987.

3. Mir hosted more than 23,000 scientific experiments. As a result, scientists learned to more accurately predict earthquakes by detecting bursts of charged particles, and they tested the production of new metals and alloys in zero gravity.

Russian test instructor Oleg Pushkar is assisted by divers during underwater tests on a replica of the damaged Mir space station July 4. 1997. Source: Reuters

4. Mir's astronauts performed more than 78 spacewalks for a total time of 359 hours and 12 minutes. There are still rumors that Mir was plunged into the Pacific Ocean because of a mysterious cosmic bacteria that appeared after a spacewalk.

5. Launched in 1986, the station consisted of only a base block. Later, there were additions – living quarters, laboratories, and a module for docking with the U.S. space shuttles.

6. Mir was the first modular design of an orbital complex, which was later used in the development of the ISS.

7. Mir conducted the first study of the effects of long term weightlessness on human behavior, which helped us to understand the reaction of the human body and mind in interplanetary travel.

8. Radiation research on Mir helped to predict the dynamics of changes in radiation fields. This is how scientists were able to determine the exact years of intense radiation hazard for future space missions.

A flight controller adjusts a model of the Mir station at the Russian Mission Control center near Moscow, during a spacewalk performed by the Mir's two Russian cosmonauts, Wednesday, April 22, 1998. Source: AP

9. Mir was designed for five years of operation, but the station lasted three times its planned lifetime.

10. During its 15 years, Mir was the world's only space laboratory for testing and training for future manned stations, such as the ISS.

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