Launched on a Russian Proton rocket from the Bailonur launch center in central Asia, the Spektr module was lofted into orbit on May 20, 1995. It was then added to the Mir Space Station. Spektr is a 19.6 ton, 11.9 meter (m) by 4.35 m module. The Spektr module is joint venture with the United States. The purpose of Spektr is for Earth observation, specifically natural resources and the atmosphere. Some of the scientific equipment on Spektr includes: Pion. Lira and Buton equipment for atmospheric research; Faza and Feniks equipment for surface studies; Astra 2 equipment for atmospheric trace constituent monitoring; Taurus and Grif equipment for monitoring Mir's induced x-ray and gamma-ray background. It has also served as the living quarters for US astronauts aboard Mir.
The US has given the Russian Space Agency nearly a half billion dollars to have the Space Shuttle dock with Mir 9 times and have only 7 or 8 astronauts on Mir for extended stays.. On June 27, 1995 the Atlantis STS- 71 was the first to dock with Mir. Atlantis is scheduled to dock with Mir for the first 7 missions. The last 2 missions the space shuttle Discovery will dock with Mir, the last occurring on STS-91, May 29. 1998.
Spektr was badly damaged at 5:18 a.m. EDT on June 25, 1997, when Progress M-34, an unmanned resupply vessel, crashed into the module during tests of the new TORU Progress guidance system. The module lost pressure and electricity and had to be shut completely down and sealed off from the remainder of the Mir complex. The possibility of repairing the module is under consideration by the Russian and NASA Mir team. An repairing EVA could possibly happen on July 24th or 25th. Or maybe the job will be left for a Russian-French crew due to arrive on Mir on August 7th. Stay tuned for more as it becomes known.
To find out about the #1 censored story on Earth, NASA's October 6th launching of the Cassini mission carrying 72.3 pounds of the most deadly substance known, Plutonium.