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Friday, 23 March, 2001, 15:01 GMT
Mir falls to Earth

As Mir ends its days crashing into the Pacific Ocean, BBC News Online looks back at the space station's dramatic 15 years.


Final Destination
Fragments from Mir falling through the sky
Fragments from Mir falling through the sky

After lowering its orbit for several days, Mir completes its descent through the Earth's atmosphere. Hundreds of fragments fail to burn up upon re-entry and fall through the sky.




 Click here to watch a report by the BBC's Andrew Clark

 Click here to watch Mir's final moments


The end of an era
Mir has orbited the Earth for 15 years
Mir has orbited the Earth for 15 years

After 15 years of orbiting the Earth, the ill-fated Mir spacestation will soon begin its descent. For many Russian people, Mir's closing moments represent the end of an era as the space programme has been one of their greatest achievements.

 Click here to watch a report by the BBC's Caroline Wyatt

 The BBC's Science Correspondent, Tom Heap, reports on the schedule to splashdown


Out with a bang
Analytical Graphics, Inc
The solar panels and antennae will the be first things to go

The largest man made object ever to be brought back to Earth will start breaking up on entry into the Earth's atmosphere at a height of about 80km, with about 20-25 tonnes of the 130-tonne station expected to fall into the Pacific Ocean.

 Click here to watch


Eye on the sky
Norfolk Island lies in the drop zone
Norfolk Island lies in the drop zone

The Russians are aiming to bring Mir back to Earth in an unpopulated area of the South Pacific. But in the heart of the drop zone is tiny Norfolk Island, a former penal colony, and the residents are hoping for a "Mir miss", as local tour operator Les Quintal explains.

 Residents of Norfolk Island are building an ark to escape the risk

 The BBC's Tom Metcalfe reports on the speculation surrounding Mir's entry into the Pacific Ocean


Costly countdown?
Space mission control centre outside Moscow
Space mission control centre outside Moscow

As splashdown gets closer, it is revealed that the Russians have taken out about 80 million in insurance against the possibility that debris might cause damage. Peter Bernhard is a director of Global Aerospace Underwriting Managers, the world's largest specialist aerospace insurer.

 Click here to listen to Peter Bernhard speak to the BBC


Crashing out
 Russia's space station
Russia's space station

In December 2000, Russia drew up final plans to crash the unmanned space station into the Pacific Ocean. The target date was 20 February and the splashdown was to be in the ocean east of Australia.

 Click here to watch


Plans scrapped
Inspection of the space station during a space walk
Inspection of the space station during a space walk

In November 2000, Mir's rollercoaster ride was almost over after plans for a commercial venture were ditched leaving the leaking spacecraft with no funding and no future. It was with regret that Russia's space agency confirmed Mir had served its purpose.

 Click here to watch


Rescue bid
The latest Soyuz rocket heads for Mir
The latest Soyuz rocket heads for Mir

In April 2000, a crew of two cosmonauts travelled back to carry out repairs on Mir after an international consortium put forward plans to make money from the craft through commercial use.

 Click here to watch


Mir unmanned
The Soyuz escape capsule touches down
The Soyuz escape capsule touches down

In August 1999, the three-man Russian crew left Mir and returned to Earth. It was the first time the space station had been unmanned since it was launched 13 years before. Mir was only meant to last for five years. Plans were afoot to ensure the remains fell into the Pacific Ocean.

 Click here to watch


Space venture
The space shuttle Atlantis links with Mir
The space shuttle Atlantis links with Mir

In June 1995, the US space shuttle Atlantis prepared for a link-up with Mir as part of the first steps towards setting up an international space station.

 Click here to watch


Historic link
On a high - US and Russian crews meet in space
On a high - US and Russian crews meet in space

In February 1995, the US space shuttle Atlantis docked with Mir for the first meeting in space by craft from both countries for 20 years. It was to mark a new era of co-operation.

 Click here to watch


Soviet success
Record breaker Yuri Romanenko
Record breaker Yuri Romanenko

In October 1987, Soviet scientists celebrated a new victory in the space race when a cosmonaut broke the space endurance record. He spent his 238th day orbiting Earth aboard the Mir space station.

 Click here to watch

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