Mir ended its 15-year space career at 0559 GMT on 23 March with a successful de-orbit and re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Most of the station disintegrated, but 27t of debris fell into the Pacific Ocean, 2,800km (1,700 miles) east of New Zealand.

The re-entry followed a series of successful engine firings to place the station in the correct position.

The 154t station, seen as the last symbol of the former Soviet Union's massive space programme, started life on 20 February 1986 with the launch of the 20t central Mir core module. Five 10t-20tscience and research modules were later added.

Mir, which had made 86,320 orbits travelling 3.5 billion km, was manned continuously for two weeks short of 10 years. It hosted 110 visits by spacecraft and 104 individuals, conducting over 23,000 experiments, with about 140 EVAs completed.

Mir suffered a number of malfunctions, along with two fires and a collision with a Progress tanker.

Source: Flight International