Soyuz Mir Mission Patches
Mir was a space station that operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001. It was initially owned and operated by the Soviet Union and then later by Russia. It was the successor to the Salyut program which operated 6 smaller stations over a period of 15 years from 1971 to 1986. Mir was the first modular space station to be assembled in orbit. A total of 7 modules were required to complete the station. The first module was placed into orbit in 1986 and the station was completed in 1996. Mir held the record for the largest artificial satellite orbiting the Earth until the International Space Station was completed. Crews were carried to and from the Mir station aboard Soyuz spacecraft. During the later years of the project, Mir was visited by a number of US Space Shuttles. Shuttle Discovery was the first to visit the station during mission STS-63 in 1995. A total of 11 Space Shuttle missions visited the station during the Shuttle-Mir program. Soyuz mission TM-30 was the last spacecraft to visit the station on April 4, 2000. Funding to keep the aging station operational was running out. After 15 years in orbit, Mir was deorbited on March 23, 2001. The majority of the station's fragments crashed into the Pacific ocean. However, one small piece of the station was recovered near the city of Boston.