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The Mir space station program celebrated its eighth anniversary of orbital operations in 1994 amid growing international interest in exploiting the facility before construction of the International Space Station begins in late 1997.

In fact, Phase 1 of the ISS program revolves around seven missions during 1995-1997 when a US Space Shuttle will dock with the Mir space station. Meanwhile, ESA and French missions to Mir will continue under separate agreements. The Mir program is now set for termination in 1998 but may be extended.

The Mir core module has been in Earth orbit since February, 1986, and by the end of 1994 had exceeded its original design life. The vehicle is 13.1 m long with a maximum diameter of 4.2 m and an initial mass of 20.4 metric tons. The habitable volume is approximately 90 m3, and the two main solar arrays were augmented in 1987 with a third, deployed array for a total power capacity of 10.1 kW, although environmental effects have reduced this value. The basic outward configuration of Mir was similar to that of Salyut 6 and Salyut 7, but the forward transfer compartment of Salyut was replaced with a 5-port docking module on Mir. Internally, many design changes and system improvements were incorporated.

Space station logistical and upgrade requirements have been met with three classes of spacecraft: crew ferries (Soyuz T and Soyuz TM), unmanned cargo ships (Progress and Progress M), and large specialized modules (Kvant and Kristall). By the end of 1994, Mir had received one Soyuz T, 20 Soyuz TM, 18 Progress, and 25 Progress M spacecraft as well as three large, permanent modules: Kvant 1, Kvant 2, and Kristall. Impressively, all 68 of these spacecraft, representing about 540 metric tons, were launched successfully and achieved their primary objectives of docking and crew, and cargo deliveries.

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