The Base Block, or Core Module, is the heart of Mir. First launched into orbit
in 1986, it comprised the entire space station for over a year, before the
other modules were launched. Built of two cylinders, one 10 feet in
diameter fused to one 13 feet wide, the Core Module is over 43 feet long.
As you enter from the Transfer Node, the first thing you see is
the control panel for monitoring and commanding Mir's core systems.
Passing by, you float out of the Operations Zone and into the Living Zone. This
area has a distinct floor with carpeting, dark-green colored "walls," and a
white ceiling with flourescent lighting. Although up and down have no meaning
in microgravity, this arrangement allows the crew a semblance of normalcy.
The Living Zone consists first of the galley, and the eating (and socializing)
table is extended in front of you. Against the wall are a water heater to
reconstitute dehydrated food and a stove to heat canned foods. There's a small
fridge for fresh produce from the latest Soyuz spacecraft, and prepackaged food
is kept in lockers around the hatch to the rear transfer tunnel. Here you'll also
find cooking elements and trash storage.
Next up, moving towards the rear of the module, is the area where the crew
exercises. There's a treadmill mounted behind the galley table, directly in
front of the rear tunnel, which gives the user a nice view of the entire
module. Stored under a floor panel is the stationary bicycle ergometer. Using
these two machines, plus doing exercises against the resistance of bungee
cords, helps keep the crew's muscles from atrophying in the microgravity
Near the back of the Core Module are the crew's quarters—two phonebox-sized
cabins, one against each wall, each of which contains a sleeping bag fastened
to the wall, and a porthole.