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MIR space station 1986 - 2001
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Fragments of Mir were visible over Fiji (AP)
Mir celebrated 15 years in space in 2001 - 10 years longer than the original projected lifespan of the station. But on 23 March, the final command was sent to the pride of the Russian space programme.

The command lit the engines of the Progress supply ship, which was docked to the platform, for one last time. The engines plunged the space station into a collision with the Earth's atmosphere.

The final manoeuvres all went according to plan and were a triumph for Russian ground controllers. Since 1978, 85 craft, including several previous space stations, have been safely brought to Earth in the South Pacific and Mir was no exception.

Most of the space station burnt up on re-entry.

At 0530GMT the disintegrating remains, which had split into between nine and 12 pieces, passed over Japan.

The 25 tonnes of wreckage finally streaked across the sky and hit the intended target area in the South Pacific, 5,800 km (3,600 miles) off the eastern coast of Australia, at about 0600GMT.


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March 2001: Mir plummets to Earth Real 56K 
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