THE CORE MODULE of the Russian Mir 1 space station entered its tenth year in orbit on 20 February, three days after the routine docking of a tanker ship, the Progress M26.

The Mir, which now consists of a Kvant 1 astrophysics module, and the Kvant 2 and Kristall modules, is being operated by its 17th "main mission crew", Alexander Viktorenko, Yelena Kondakova and Valeri Poliakov. They will be joined, on 16 March by the 18th crew, Vladimir Dezhurov, Gennadi Strekalov and the first US astronaut to ride on a Russian rocket, Norman Thagard.

The Progress M26 carried 100kg of US equipment, to be operated by Thagard during his 90 day-plus flight, before he returns aboard the Shuttle STS7 1/Atlantis, which is to be launched on 8 June with the 19th Mir mission crew.

Source: Flight International