Progress M1-5
Progress M1-5 was the Progress spacecraft which was launched by Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 in 2001 to deorbit the fifteen-year old Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 before it naturally fell from orbit, potentially landing in a populated area. The Russian Aviation and Space Agency
Russian Federal Space Agency
The Russian Federal Space Agency , commonly called Roscosmos and abbreviated as FKA and RKA , is the government agency responsible for the Russian space science program and general aerospace research. It was previously the Russian Aviation and Space Agency .Headquarters of Roscosmos are located...

, Rosaviakosmos, was responsible for the mission.

Launched in January 2001 after a short delay due to a problem with Mir, on 27 January Progress M1-5 became the last spacecraft to dock with the station. It spent two months attached to the Kvant-1
Kvant-1 was the second module of the Soviet space station Mir. It was the first addition to the Mir base block and contained scientific instruments for astrophysical observations and materials science experiments....

 module before deorbiting the station on 23 March 2001. Mir re-entered the atmosphere with Progress M1-5 still docked, disintegrating over the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

, with debris falling into the ocean at around 06:00 GMT. During the early stages of the unmanned Progress M1-5 mission, a manned Soyuz was placed on standby to launch in order to complete the mission if a problem occurred. The decision to deorbit Mir attracted both praise and criticism for Rosaviakosmos, while several campaigns to save the station were conducted.


Mir was the seventh and last manned space station to be launched as part of the Soviet space program
Soviet space program
The Soviet space program is the rocketry and space exploration programs conducted by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1930s until its dissolution in 1991...

me, and was the first true modular space station to be launched. The first component, the Core Module
Mir Core Module
Mir , DOS-7, was the first module of the Soviet/Russian Mir space station complex, in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001. Generally referred to as either the core module or base block, the module was launched on 20 February 1986 on a Proton-K rocket from LC-200/39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome...

, was launched by a Proton-K
The Proton-K, also designated Proton 8K82K after its GRAU index, 8K82K, is a Russian, previously Soviet, carrier rocket derived from the earlier Proton. It was built by Khrunichev, and is launched from sites 81 and 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan...

 rocket on 19 February 1986. This had been followed by six more modules, launched between 1987 and 1996, all using Proton-K rockets, except one which was launched aboard . Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

, Mir became the property of the Russian government, and the newly established Russian Aviation and Space Agency. It supported 28 long duration crews, visited by 40 manned Soyuz
Soyuz programme
The Soyuz programme is a human spaceflight programme that was initiated by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, originally part of a Moon landing project intended to put a Soviet cosmonaut on the Moon...

 and Shuttle missions, whilst 64 unmanned Progress spacecraft were launched to support it. It was visited by 125 cosmonauts
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

 and astronaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

s, who performed 75 spacewalks
Extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth, and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth , but also applies to an EVA made on the surface of the Moon...


During the Shuttle-Mir programme
Shuttle-Mir Program
The Shuttle–Mir Program was a collaborative space program between Russia and the United States, which involved American Space Shuttles visiting the Russian space station Mir, Russian cosmonauts flying on the shuttle and an American astronaut flying aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to engage in...

, a series of American Space Shuttle missions visited Mir between 1995 and 1998 in preparation for the construction of the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

. After the construction of the International Space Station began in 1998, Russian resources were split between the two stations. In 2000, Rosaviakosmos signed an agreement with MirCorp
MirCorp was a commercial space company created in 1999 by space entrepreneurs and involving the Russian space program that successfully undertook a number of firsts in the business of space exploration by using the aging Russian space station Mir as a commercial platform...

 to lease the station for commercial use, with the Soyuz TM-30
Soyuz TM-30
Soyuz TM-30 , also known as Mir EO-28, was a Soyuz mission, the 39th and final human spaceflight to the Mir space station. The crew of the mission was sent by MirCorp, a privately funded company, to reactivate and repair the station...

 mission, intended to prepare the station for future use and conduct some commercial research, being flown in later that year. This was to have been followed by more missions, including flights with space tourists
Space tourism
Space Tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. A number of startup companies have sprung up in recent years, hoping to create a space tourism industry...

, however due to the Russian government being concerned about MirCorp's ability to fund these missions, Rosaviakosmos decided against funding the continued operation of Mir.

In November 2000, Rosaviakosmos decided to deorbit Mir, and the next month Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Russia
The Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation The use of the term "Prime Minister" is strictly informal and is not allowed for by the Russian Constitution and other laws....

 Mikhail Kasyanov
Mikhail Kasyanov
Mikhail Mikhailovich Kasyanov - was the Prime Minister of Russia from May 2000 to February 2004.He is the leader of the People's Democratic Union and an ex-member of the opposition coalition "The Other Russia".-Political career:...

 signed an order to do so. By this stage Mir was well past the end of its design life, and Rosaviakosmos General Director Yuri Koptev
Yuri Koptev
Yuri Nikolayevich Koptev is a former General Director of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, serving in that role from 1992 to 2004.Beginning in 1965, he worked as an engineer at NPO Lavochkin....

 believed that "any of its systems could well fail at any time". Therefore it was decided to deorbit it whilst it was still functioning, rather than risk it falling back to Earth out of control, like Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

 in 1979 and Salyut 7
Salyut 7
Salyut 7 was a space station in low Earth orbit from April 1982 to February 1991. It was first manned in May 1982 with two crew via Soyuz T-5, and last visited in June 1986, by Soyuz T-15. Various crew and modules were used over its lifetime, including a total of 12 manned and 15 unmanned launches...

 in 1991, potentially dropping debris over a populated area. At the time, Mir was the largest spacecraft ever to reenter the Earth's atmosphere, and there were concerns that sizeable pieces of debris, particularly from the docking assemblies, gyrodynes and external structure, could survive reentry.

Progress M1-5, which had originally been built to resupply and refuel either Mir or the International Space Station, was selected to perform the deorbit manoeuvre. Its mission earned it the nickname Hearse
A hearse is a funerary vehicle used to carry a coffin from a church or funeral home to a cemetery. In the funeral trade, hearses are often called funeral coaches.-History:...

. It was a Progress-M1 11F615A55 spacecraft, with the serial number
Serial number
A serial number is a unique number assigned for identification which varies from its successor or predecessor by a fixed discrete integer value...

 254. An uninhabited area of the southern Pacific ocean was selected for the station to be deorbited into, as had been done with five earlier Salyut spacecraft.

Launch and docking

Progress M1-5 was launched by a Soyuz-U
The Soyuz-U launch vehicle is an improved version of the original Soyuz LV. Soyuz-U is part of the R-7 family of rockets based on the R-7 Semyorka missile. Members of this rocket family were designed by the TsSKB design bureau and constructed at the Progress Factory in Samara, Russia....

 carrier rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

. It was originally scheduled for launch on 16 January 2001, but by the first week of January, it was targeting 18 January. It was rolled out to the launch pad on 16 January, with the rocket departing the MIK
MIK could refer to:* Methyl isopropyl ketone, a solvent* Micklefield railway station, England; National Rail station code MIK.* FC MiK Kaluga - * MIK Code page* Mikkeli Airport, Finland; IATA airport code MIK.* Multiple-indicator kriging...

 assembly facility at Site 2 of the cosmodrome at 02:00 GMT, and was erected at the launch pad, Site 1/5
Gagarin's Start
Gagarin's Start is a launch site at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, used for the Soviet space program and now managed by the Russian Federal Space Agency....

, within two hours of the start of rollout. Launch was set for 06:56:26 GMT on 18 January.

On 18 January, a problem with the computers aboard Mir developed shortly before fuelling of the Soyuz-U rocket was scheduled to commence, about five and a half hours before the launch was due to occur. The launch attempt was scrubbed, or cancelled, and the launch was expected to be delayed by four or five days. On 19 January, the launch was rescheduled for 24 January, giving controllers time to restart the computer and the station's gyroscopes, which had shut down when the computer failed.

Preparations for the launch resumed on 22 January, and the launch occurred successfully at 04:28:42 GMT on 24 January. Following the launch, Progress M1-5 spent three days in free flight before docking with the rear port of the Kvant-1
Kvant-1 was the second module of the Soviet space station Mir. It was the first addition to the Mir base block and contained scientific instruments for astrophysical observations and materials science experiments....

module of Mir at 05:33:31 GMT on 27 January. The docking port had previously been occupied by Progress M-43, which departed at 05:19:49 on 25 January, and subsequently remained in orbit until Progress M1-5 had docked with Mir. Progress M-43, which had originally been launched to carry supplies and raise Mirs orbit, in anticipation of manned flights which were never launched, was subsequently deorbited at 02:12 GMT on 29 January, burning up during re-entry at 02:58.

Free-flights of Progress spacecraft typically lasted two days from launch to docking with
Mir, however Progress M1-5 took three days to reach Mir in order to conserve fuel for the deorbit burn. If it had launched on 18 January it would have spent four days in free flight.

After docking

Progress M1-5 spent two months docked to
Mir before the deorbit burn occurred. The gap between docking and deorbit was in order to allow the spacecraft to dock whilst Mir was still in a stable orbit, but then to allow some natural decay, or decrease in altitude, to occur in order to conserve the Progress' fuel. Controllers determined that they should wait for the station's orbital altitude to reach 250 kilometres (155.3 mi) before deorbiting it. In addition, RKK Energia
S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia
OAO S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia , also known as RKK Energiya, is a Russian manufacturer of spacecraft and space station components...

 wanted to wait until after the fifteenth anniversary of the launch of the Core Module, on 19 February.

Following the docking, Mirs attitude control system was used to spin the station, to provide spin-stabilisation
Spin-stabilisation is the method of stabilizing a satellite or launch vehicle by means of spin. For most satellite applications this approach has been superseded by three-axis stabilisation. It is also used in non-satellite applications such as rifle and artillery.Despinning can be achieved by...

 in order to further conserve the fuel, as the station had descended to an altitude at which its gyroscopes could not be used for attitude control. The station would remain in this spin until the deorbit manoeuvres began.

On 20 February, Mir was predicted to descend to 250 kilometres within five days of 9 March. By 1 March, it was at an altitude of 265 kilometres (164.7 mi), and descending at a rate of 1.5 kilometre (0.93205910497471 mi) per day. On 7 March, the Russian space agency opted to delay the deorbit burn until the station reached 220 kilometres (136.7 mi) as a result of natural decay, in order to allow more fuel for the burn, giving a greater range of options in the event of an anomaly during the deorbit manoeuvre. It was predicted that without intervention, the station would have naturally entered the atmosphere on 28 March.

On 12 March computers aboard Mir were reactivated ahead of deorbiting, along with the control system on 13 March. On 14 March it was announced that the procedure would be conducted on 22 March. On 19 March it was delayed one day further due to a lower than expected descent rate, with the start of the first deorbit burn being set for 00:31 GMT.


Progress M1-5 carried 2678 kilograms (5,904 lb) of fuel with which to perform the manoeuvres to deorbit Mir. These were completed on 23 March, when three deorbit burns were made; the first two using just docking and attitude control thrusters, and the third using the main engine as well as the thrusters. The first burn began at 00:32:28 GMT, and lasted 21.5 minutes, leaving Mir in an orbit with a perigee
An apsis , plural apsides , is the point of greatest or least distance of a body from one of the foci of its elliptical orbit. In modern celestial mechanics this focus is also the center of attraction, which is usually the center of mass of the system...

 of 188 kilometres (116.8 mi) and an apogee
An apsis , plural apsides , is the point of greatest or least distance of a body from one of the foci of its elliptical orbit. In modern celestial mechanics this focus is also the center of attraction, which is usually the center of mass of the system...

 of 219 kilometres (136.1 mi). The second burn, which began at 02:24 GMT and lasted 24 minutes, placed Mir into a 158 kilometres (98.2 mi) by 216 kilometres (134.2 mi) orbit. The final deorbit burn began at 05:07:36. It was scheduled to last 20 minutes, however flight controllers decided to let the Progress burn to depletion to ensure that the station re-entered as expected. The last signals from Mir were received at 05:30 GMT, as it passed out of range of its ground station.

Mir re-entered the atmosphere over the southern Pacific with Progress M1-5 still docked at 05:44 GMT. It began to disintegrate at 05:52, beginning with the detachment of solar panels, followed by other peripheral structures. The modules then buckled, before detaching completely. Debris came down in the ocean at around 06:00 GMT. Debris was intended to fall at around 47°S 140°W. An official statement announced that Mir "ceased to exist" at 05:59:24 GMT. The final tracking of Mir was conducted by a United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 site on Kwajalein Atoll. The European Space Agency
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

, German Federal Ministry of Defence
Federal Ministry of Defence (Germany)
The Federal Ministry of Defence is a top-level federal agency, headed by the Federal Minister of Defence as a member of the Cabinet of Germany...

 and US National Aeronautics and Space Administration also assisted with tracking Mir during its final orbit and reentry. Former cosmonaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

 Vladimir Solovyov
Vladimir Alekseyevich Solovyov
Vladimir Alekseyevich Solovyov is a former Soviet cosmonaut, twice Hero of the Soviet Union ....

, who had been a member of the first crew to visit Mir, led the mission control team which was on station during the deorbit.

Contingency planning

Like all Progress spacecraft, M1-5 carried two docking systems, Kurs
Kurs (docking system)
Kurs is a radio telemetry system used by the Soviet and later Russian space program.Kurs was developed by the Research Institute of Precision Instruments before 1985 and manufactured by the Kiev Radio Factory .- History :...

 and TORU
TORU system is a manual docking system of Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft that serves as a backup to the automatic Kurs system . It was used on the Mir, Salyut and is currently used on the International Space Station...

. The automated Kurs system was the primary docking system, with TORU, which required manual input, as the backup. Because Mir was unmanned at the time of its docking, and a cosmonaut aboard the station would have been required to perform a TORU docking, or to troubleshoot any other problems during the docking, the Soyuz TM-32
Soyuz TM-32
Soyuz TM-32 was a manned Russian spacecraft which was launched on April 28, 2001, and docked with the International Space Station two days later. It launched the crew of the visiting mission ISS EP-1, which included the first paying space tourist Dennis Tito, as well as two Russian cosmonauts...

 spacecraft was made ready for a flight to Mir should human intervention be required. The Soyuz may also have been launched if the flight control system aboard Mir failed. Cosmonauts Salizhan Sharipov
Salizhan Sharipov
Salizhan Shakirovich Sharipov is a Kyrgyz cosmonaut. Sharipov is a co-author and investigator for the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity project. He has been to space twice and has conducted two spacewalks...

 and Pavel Vinogradov were originally scheduled to have been on standby for this mission, with Talgat Musabayev
Talgat Musabayev
Talgat Amangeldyuly Musabayev , is a Kazakh test pilot and former cosmonaut who flew on three spaceflights. His first two spaceflights were long-duration stays aboard the Russian space station Mir. His third spaceflight was a short duration visiting mission to the International Space Station, which...

 and Yuri Baturin
Yuri Baturin
Yuri Mikhailovich Baturin , is a Russian cosmonaut and former politician.Baturin graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1973, and is the former head of National Security; he is also an author in constitutional law....

, the crew who eventually flew TM-32 to the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

, as the backup crew. however in December 2000, they were replaced by Gennady Padalka
Gennady Padalka
Gennady Ivanovich Padalka is a Russian Air Force officer and an RSA cosmonaut. As of June 2010, Gennady ranks sixth for career time in space due to his time on both Mir and the International Space Station....

 and Nikolai Budarin
Nikolai Budarin
Nikolai Mikhailovich Budarin is a Russian cosmonaut, a veteran of three extended space missions aboard the Mir Space Station and the International Space Station...

, a crew which became known as Expedition Zero. These cosmonauts were chosen because of their training for a similar emergency mission to the International Space Station the previous year, which would have been launched if the Zvezda module had failed to dock. If a manned flight had been launched, controllers would have waited until after it had landed to begin the deorbit of Mir.

Progress M-43 had been launched in 2000, undocked from Mir the day after Progress M1-5 launched, and kept in orbit until Progress M1-5 had docked. In the event that Progress M1-5 had been unable to dock, Progress M-43 would have returned to the station and provide supplies of food and oxygen for the Soyuz crew. Progress M-43 was deorbited after Progress M1-5 docked successfully.

If Progress M1-5 had launched on 16 January, the Soyuz launch would have occurred on 10 February if it had been required. It was stood down around 22 February, after the decaying altitude of Mir made it too dangerous to send a crew to it.

If Mir's main computer had failed after Progress M1-5 had docked, then the flight plan would have been modified to use either the station's BUPO rendezvous system, or the Progress for control. Under this plan, the third deorbit burn would have been conducted 24 hours after the first two burns, with the station being spin-stabilised again between the second and third burns. Controllers also planned for a failure of Mir's power system, which would have resulted in the deorbit being delayed one day, with all guidance and control functions being handled by the Progress spacecraft.

It was reported that Rosaviakosmos had taken out an insurance policy worth 200 million US dollars to cover damage caused by falling debris. The risk of debris from the station reaching land was estimated to be 3%. Countries located near the target zone monitored events surrounding the deorbit to determine whether precautions should be taken. In New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 the Satellite Reentry Committee was responsible for this, whilst Emergency Management Australia
Emergency Management Australia
Emergency Management Australia is an Australian Federal Government Agency tasked with coordinating governmental responses to emergency incidents...

 handled preparations in Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. The head of the Japanese Defense Agency, Toshitsugu Saito
Toshitsugu Saito
is a Japanese politician of the Liberal Democratic Party, a member of the House of Representatives in the Diet . A native of Fuji, Shizuoka and graduate of Sophia University, he attended Waseda University for graduate study and business school at the University of Washington in the United States...

, postponed a trip to the United States in case any debris fell on Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, as the station was scheduled to pass over several Japanese islands on its final orbit. Residents of Okinawa were warned to stay indoors as the station passed overhead. Members of the South Pacific Forum requested assurance from Russia that they would not be hit by falling debris. Chan Sek Keong
Chan Sek Keong
Chan Sek Keong is the current Chief Justice of Singapore, having taken over from the former Chief Justice Yong Pung How on 11 April 2006. Chan was formerly the Attorney-General of Singapore, before being succeeded by Chao Hick Tin on 11 April 2006....

, the attorney general
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 of Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, called for greater regulation of space debris
Space debris
Space debris, also known as orbital debris, space junk, and space waste, is the collection of objects in orbit around Earth that were created by humans but no longer serve any useful purpose. These objects consist of everything from spent rocket stages and defunct satellites to erosion, explosion...



The reaction to Russia's announcement and subsequent execution of its plan to deorbit Mir was mixed. Several cosmonauts expressed regrets at the loss of the station, but support for the decision to end the programme; Vladimir Titov
Vladimir Titov
Vladimir Georgiyevich Titov , Colonel, Russian Air Force, Ret., and former Russian cosmonaut was born January 1, 1947, in Sretensk, in the Zabaykalsky Krai region of Russia. He is married to the former Alexandra Kozlova of Ivanovo Region, Russia...

 described the station as "a good ship", but said that he agreed with the decision to prioritise the International Space Station, while Vladimir Dezhurov
Vladimir Dezhurov
Vladimir Nikolayevich Dezhurov is a former cosmonaut who resides in Star City, Moscow. He is a veteran of two spaceflights, to the Mir and International Space Stations. During his career, Duzhurov also conducted nine spacewalks before his retirement on July 12, 2004.- Personal :Dezhurov was born...

 said that he felt "sad about Mir but we have to look into the future."

In November 2000, shortly after plans to deorbit Mir were announced, members of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia , Liberal'no-Demokraticheskaya Partiya Rossii is a political party in Russia. Since its founding in 1991, it has been led by the charismatic and controversial figure Vladimir Zhirinovsky...

 passed a resolution in the Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

, the lower house of the Russian parliament, aimed at preventing it. On 8 February 2001, a protest against the deorbiting of the station was held in Moscow, and a petition was subsequently sent to Russian president Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when...

. Gennady Zyuganov
Gennady Zyuganov
Gennady Andreyevich Zyuganov is a Russian politician, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation , Chairman of the Union of Communist Parties - Communist Party of the Soviet Union , deputy of the State Duma , and a member of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe...

, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation
Communist Party of the Russian Federation
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is a Russian political party. It is the second major political party in the Russian Federation.-History:...

, described deorbiting the station to be "incorrect and harmful", and the act of a "helpless, weak-willed, inefficient and not very responsible" government. Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 attempted to buy the space station, with president Mohammad Khatami
Mohammad Khatami
Sayyid Mohammad Khātamī is an Iranian scholar, philosopher, Shiite theologian and Reformist politician. He served as the fifth President of Iran from August 2, 1997 to August 3, 2005. He also served as Iran's Minister of Culture in both the 1980s and 1990s...

 offering to fund it for two to three years in return for Russian assistance with cosmonaut training, however by this stage it was too late for such a transaction to be completed.

The major Russian ORT
Channel One (Russia)
Channel One is the first television channel to broadcast in the Soviet Union. The channel was renamed Ostankino Channel 1 in 1991, after the Soviet Union broke up and the Russian SFSR became the Russian Federation. According to a recent government publication, the Russian government controls 51%...

 TV station organised a national televised debate as to what should be done with the station. Former cosmonaut Georgi Grechko
Georgi Grechko
Georgy Mikhaylovich Grechko is a retired Soviet cosmonaut who flew on several space flights among which Soyuz 17, Soyuz 26, and Soyuz T-14.Grechko graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Mechanics with a doctorate in mathematics. He was a member of Communist Party of Soviet Union...

 suggested that it should be kept in orbit long enough to salvage any useful equipment from it, for transfer to the International Space Station or other spacecraft, however Konstantin Feoktistov
Konstantin Feoktistov
Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov was a Soviet cosmonaut and an eminent space engineer. Feoktistov also wrote several books on space technology and exploration...

 argued that it would cost more to retrieve the equipment than to replace it. Anatoly Artsebarsky
Anatoly Artsebarsky
Anatoly Pavlovich Artsebarsky is a former Soviet cosmonaut.He became a cosmonaut in 1985. Artsebarsky has spent almost 5 months in space on a single spaceflight. In 1991, he flew aboard Soyuz TM-12 and docked with the Mir Space Station. Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalev stayed aboard Mir while the...

 argued that Mir should be kept because he believed that once it had been deorbited, the US would try to marginalise Russian involvement in the ISS. An online opinion poll showed 67% support worldwide for keeping it in orbit.

Rosaviakosmos and RKK Energia
S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia
OAO S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia , also known as RKK Energiya, is a Russian manufacturer of spacecraft and space station components...

 responded to criticism of the decision in an open letter in mid February, which explained that the "actual condition of the onboard systems...[does] not make possible the safe and reliable operation of Mir", and that attempts to prolong its life "may lead to the loss of control of Mir..and, as a result, to catastrophic consequences not only for Russia but for the whole world."

The US Government welcomed the decision to deorbit Mir, as it freed up Russian resources for the International Space Station programme. The Space Frontier Foundation
Space Frontier Foundation
The Space Frontier Foundation is a space advocacy nonprofit corporation organized to promote the interests of increased involvement of the private sector, in collaboration with government, in the exploration and development of space...

, however criticised the Russian government for yielding to what it claimed was pressure from the American government. SFF co-founder Rick Tumlinson
Rick Tumlinson
Rick Tumlinson is the co-founder of the Space Frontier Foundation and a space activist. He has testified on space-related topics before the U.S. Congress six times since 1995...

 claimed that "Mir was bulldozed to make way for [the] International Space Station". It had previously run a campaign called "Keep Mir Alive", which aimed to either secure the continued operation of Mir, or to have it placed into a higher orbit, allowing it to be stored until its operation became viable.

In anticipation of the reentry of Mir, the owners of Taco Bell
Taco Bell
Taco Bell is an American chain of fast-food restaurants based in Irvine, California. A subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., which serves American-adapted Mexican food. Taco Bell serves tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, other specialty items, and a variety of "Value Menu" items...

 towed a target, measuring 12 by 12 metres (40 ft × 40 ft) out into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Australia. If the target was hit by a falling piece of Mir, every person in the continental United States would be entitled to a free Taco Bell taco. The company bought a sizeable insurance policy for this "gamble." No piece of the station struck the target. A group of enthusiasts from the United States, led by Bob Citron
Bob Citron
Bob Citron is an entrepreneur and aerospace engineer who was born in Brooklyn, New York and educated at the University of California and Northrop University . Citron helped establish and manage the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Moonwatch and Precision Optical Satellite Tracking Programs ...

, chartered an aircraft to fly over the Pacific and view the reentry.

See also

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