Categories: Space Station

Mir’s Fiery Re-entry, March 23, 2001

The storied history of the Mir space station includes collisions, a fire, and political change. But it also consists of unprecedented long-duration spaceflights and scientific studies – and without it, the International Space Station may never have been built. Nine ten years ago, the journey of the 15-year-old Russian space station ended. On March 23, 2001, Mir re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere near Nadi, Fiji, and fell into the South Pacific. The planned and controlled re-entry began when the engines of a cargo ship docked to Mir were fired causing the station’s orbit to brake, starting Mir’s descent. The video here shows both real and computer generated images of the breakup of the 143-ton station as it descended to Earth.

Originally planned for a 7 year mission, Mir was supposed to be completed by 1990. However, repeated delays in the additional modules delayed completion of the station until 1996 when the sixth and final module (Priroda) was launched.

From 1995-1998 seven US astronauts lived on board Mir as part of the Shuttle-Mir program, preparing the United States and Russia for cooperative efforts on the ISS.

Investigations performed aboard Mir –which means “peace” in Russian, include space technology experiments, remote sensing and environmental monitoring, life science and biological research, astrophysics studies, material processing tests, and medical and biotechnology experiments.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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