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From Mir to Mars
Explore a Diagram of Mir


Progress-M is the unmanned supply ship used to send food and other supplies to the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard Mir. It is launched atop a Russian Soyuz SL-4 rocket.
Module: Progress M
Mass: 7,200 Kg
Length: 7 m
Max. Diameter: 2.7 m
Pressurized Volume: 7.6 cubic meters
Power Output: 1.3 KW
Function: Unmanned resupply and logistics
Mir Core Module

Mir is the first space station designed for expansion. The core module, Mir's first building block, was launched in February 1986. The core module provides basic services (living quarters, life support, power) and scientific research capabilities. It has two axial docking ports, fore and aft, for Soyuz-TM manned transports and automated Progress-M supply ships, plus four radial berthing ports for expansion modules.

The working compartment is the main habitable volume on Mir and is made up of two concentric cylinders connected by a tapered conical section. The interior of the working compartment is divided into an operations zone and a living area.

Without gravity, the orientation of the ceiling and floor don't really matter within Mir. But crews have preferred to have a bottom-to-top arrangement anyway. Within the operations area, the floor is covered with dark green carpet, the walls are light green and the ceiling is white with fluorescent lamps. The arrangement of equipment and the interior finish of the working compartment are designed to reinforce this bottom-to-top orientation. The living area uses the same spatial orientation concepts, but soft pastel colors are used to imply a home-like atmosphere.

The living area of the working compartment provides the necessities for long-term human missions, including a galley area with a table, cooking elements and trash storage. Each crew member has a separate closet-like sleeping compartment for privacy. These individual crew cabins include a porthole, hinged chairs and a sleeping bag. The aft end of the working compartment contains the personal hygiene area with toilet, sink and shower.

Module: Mir Core
Mass: 20,900 kg
Length: 13.13 m
Max. Diameter: 4.15 m
Pressurized Volume: 90 cubic meters
Power Output: 10.1 KW
Function: Habitation, control, life support, thermal control, power, docking ports

The Priroda (Nature) module was launched on April 23, 1996, and docked with Mir on April 26. The module carried more than a ton of U.S. cargo for astronaut Shannon Lucid's use while she was aboard the space station. When docked, Priroda completed the Mir construction complex started 10 years earlier; four other modules -- Kristall, Kvant, Kvant-2 and Spektr -- had been launched and attached to the core unit before. Unlike them, Priroda has no solar power arrays and must rely on its on-board batteries as long as it is not docked to Mir.

Priroda's primary purpose is to add Earth remote-sensing capability to Mir. Its Earth remote-sensing capabilities include:

  • Monitoring the ecological situation of large industrial areas, estimation of humans' effects on ecological systems.
  • Measuring concentration and distribution in atmosphere of ozone and human-produced impurities.
  • Determining temperature fields on the ocean surface and researching how weather is affected by the exchange of energy and mass between ocean and atmosphere.
  • Receiving data on classification, structure and moisture of clouds, including their optical characteristics.
  • Receiving data for plotting geological structure maps on refinement of mineral reserves, water reserves, erosion of soil and conditions of forests and crops.
  • Acquiring emergency information from buoys in areas of nuclear power stations, seismically dangerous and other zones to create an integrated monitoring and warning system (Kentavr).
  • Performing measurements in order to obtain data for working out ecological and economic theory of utilizing natural resources.
Module: Priroda
Mass: 19,700 kg
Length: 13 m
Max. Diameter: 4.35 m
Pressurized Volume: 66 cubic meters
Power Output: (none)
Function: Remote sensing, earth sciences

Spektr was sent into orbit on May 20, 1995. The module was docked at the radial port opposite Kvant 2 after Kristall was moved out of the way.

Spektr was badly damaged 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. It had served as the living quarters for U.S. astronauts aboard Mir. The possibility of repairing the module is under consideration by the Russian Mir team.

The focus of scientific study on Spektr is Earth observation, specifically natural resources and atmosphere. Spektr carries four solar arrays and scientific equipment (including more than 1,600 pounds of U.S. equipment). The equipment onboard is supplied by both Russian and the United States.

Module: Spektr
Mass: 19,640 kg
Length: 13 m
Max. Diameter: 4.35 m
Pressurized Volume: 61.9 cubic meters
Power Output: TBD
Function: Geophysical sciences, remote sensing, U.S. payloads


Kvant was added to the Mir core's aft port in 1987. This small module contains astrophysics instruments, life support and attitude control equipment.

The Kvant-1 module uses instruments that measure electromagnetic spectra and x-ray emissions to provide data and observations for research into the physics of active galaxies, quasars and neutron stars. Kvant-1 also supports biotechnology experiments in the areas of antiviral preparations and fractions.

Kvant-1 is divided into a pressurized laboratory compartment and a nonpressurized equipment compartment. The laboratory compartment is further divided into an instrumentation area and a living area, which are separated by an interior partition.

Module: Kvant 1
Mass: 11,050 kg
Length: 5.8 m
Max. Diameter: 4.15 m
Pressurized Volume: 40 cubic meters
Power Output: 6 KW
Function: Astronomy, some control & life support, Progress & Soyuz docking


Kvant 2 was added to Mir in 1989. It features solar arrays and life support equipment, plus an airlock for spacewalks. The purpose of Kvant-2 is to provide biological research data, Earth observation data and spacewalk capability. Kvant-2 includes additional life support system, drinking water and oxygen provisions, motion control systems and power distribution, as well as shower and washing facilities.

Kvant-2 is divided into three pressurized compartments: instrumentation/cargo, science instrument and airlock. The airlock not only provides spacewalk capability, but also contains a self-sustained cosmonaut maneuvering unit that increases the range and complexity of tasks that can be attempted via spacewalk. For instance, various construction materials and electronic components can be placed on the outside of the Mir Complex modules during a spacewalk. Later, scientists can analyze the effects of exposure to the space environment on these construction materials.

Module: Kvant 2
Mass: 18,500 kg
Length: 13.73 m
Max. Diameter: 4.35 m
Pressurized Volume: 61.3 cubic meters
Power Output: 6.9 KW
Function: Remote sensing, life support, spacewalk airlock

Docked opposite Kvant 2 in 1990, Kristall carries two stowable solar arrays, science and technology equipment and a docking port equipped with a special androgynous docking mechanism designed to receive heavy (up to about 100 tons) spacecraft equipped with the same kind of docking unit. Atlantis used the androgynous docking unit on Kristall during one of its missions. The purpose of the Kristall module is to develop biological and materials production technologies in the space environment.

Module: Kristall
Mass: 19,649 kg
Length: 13.73 m
Max. Diameter: 4.35 m
Pressurized Volume: 60.8 cubic meters
Power Output: 5.5-8.4 KW
Function: Materials production & remote sensing, docking node


Soyuz-TM is the Russian manned spacecraft that ferries cosmonauts and astronauts to and from Mir. It also serves as an escape "lifeboat" in the event Mir should experience any life-threatening condition.
Module: Soyuz TM
Mass: 7,100 kg
Length: 7 m
Max. Diameter: 2.7 m
Pressurized Volume: 10 cubic meters
Power Output: 1.3 KW
Function: Crew transport (max. 3 persons up/down)

Docking Module

The docking module was launched in the payload bay of Atlantis and berthed at Kristall's androgynous docking port. The docking module provides clearance for future Shuttle dockings with Mir and carries two solar arrays -- one Russian and one jointly developed by the U.S. and Russia -- to augment Mir's power supply.

Space Shuttle (U.S.)

Completed and Scheduled Shuttle/Mir Missions, 1995-1998:

Mission: STS-71
Launch: June 27, 1995
Orbiter: Atlantis
Duration (Days): 9.80
Crew: 7 up/8 down
Payload: MIR#1/Spacelab-Mir

Mission: STS-74
Launch: Nov. 12, 1995
Orbiter: Atlantis
Duration (Days): 8.19
Crew: 5
Payload: MIR#2

Mission: STS-76
Launch: March 22, 1996
Orbiter: Atlantis
Duration (Days): 9+1
Crew: 6 up/5 down
Payload: MIR#3/Spacehab

Mission: STS-79
Launch: Sept. 16, 1996
Orbiter: Atlantis
Duration (Days): 9+1
Crew: 6
Payload: MIR#4/Spacehab-5

Mission: STS-81
Launch: Jan. 12, 1997
Orbiter: Atlantis
Duration (Days): 9+1
Crew: 6
Payload: MIR#5/Spacehab DM

Mission: STS-84
Launch: May 15, 1997
Orbiter: Atlantis
Duration (Days): 9+1
Crew: 6
Payload: MIR#6/Spacehab DM

Mission: STS-86
Launch: Sept. 18, 1997
Orbiter: Atlantis
Duration (Days): 9+1
Crew: 6
Payload: MIR#7/Spacehab DM

Mission: STS-89
Launch: Jan. 15, 1998
Orbiter: Discovery
Duration (Days): 9+1
Crew: 6
Payload: Mir#8, Spacehab DM

Mission: STS-91
Launch: May 29, 1998
Orbiter: Discovery
Duration (Days): 9+1
Crew: 6
Payload: Mir#9, AMS, Spacehab SM