The first piece of the Mir space station the Mir Core Module was launch by Russia on February 19, 1986. It is now 11½ years old and has orbited the Earth more then 65,000 times. Originally Mir was designed to give service for between 5 and 10 years. Mir has been living on borrowed time for at least the last year and a half.
Mir has begun to show her age this year. There have been at least four different times the crew has considered emergency evacuation of Mir by the use of Soyuz, the three man lifeboat that would bring them safely back to Earth. The first being during a 90 second fire on board Mir in February. For this mishap the crew all had to wear oxygen masks. Then an out of control Progress unmanned resupply vessel just missed ramming them. In April the oxygen generators, air cleaners, cooling system and humidity-control systems all failed, causing major problems.
On June 25th Mir was badly damaged to the Spektr module 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. Spektr are the living quarters for the US astronauts when they're on Mir. A spacewalk to would be needed to repair a hole, believed to be about a inch- square (3 cm square), that was cut in the side of the module. They also have to reattach 22 electrical cables to restore power. The crash also damaged a solar panel and a radiator used to control temperatures on Mir.
On July 17th the exhausted mission commander Tsibliyev mistakenly disconnected a vital computer cable, plunging the crippled ship into darkness and its worst crisis since the near fatal collision of June 25th. Mir gyroscopes cut off sending Mir into a slow spin with no heating, communications or life support. After a few nervous hours, the crew moved back into Mir's core module, stopped the station's rotation using the jets on the Soyuz and restored power.
Hopefully the Mir Space Station will hold out until The International Space Station can be launch and put together starting next July. When the Space Shuttle Endeavour, STS-88, will carry a connecting module, called Node 1, and using the Shuttle's robotic arm, they will dock Node 1 with the main module called the Functional Cargo Block.
Within the last year all of problems on Mir, the Mars 96 accident last November 16th which lost its .44 lb. of Plutonium over Bolivia and Chile and the Delta explosion in January at the Cape all tell us were human. Now if we can only Stop NASA's next unmanned mission, the Cassini Mission to Saturn which is carrying 72.3 pounds of the most deadly substance known, Plutonium. Cassini is the #1 censored story on Earth. Solar power and long lived fuel cells can replace the Plutonium.
Mir: A History Of Putting Together Earth's Only Space Station Module By Module