RSC Energy General Designer
U.P. Semenov

RSC Energy Conclusion about the possibility of continuing the exploitation of the scientific-research orbital complex Mir

1. Main achievements and exploitation results.

Complex Mir the core vehicle (basic unit) of which was launched into orbit on February 20, 1986, is one of the greatest Russian scientific and technical achievements in the field of the piloted space flights and exploration of the near-earth outer space. At present the complex works in its final configuration consisting of seven modules. Complex Mir has no analogs in the world and is the absolute world leader in the following primary cosmonautics fields:

At present complex Mir according to its resource parameters and the level of the international cooperation is comparable to the corresponding design parameters of the International Space Station - ISS (ten years of the orbit exploitation after completing its assembly) which is being designed by USA together with Russia and other international participants.

In all according to the complex Mir flight program 102 spacecrafts and modules of various types (including the launch of the American spacecraft Shuttle) were launched. All the launches were carried out successfully, the main tasks of the flights were fulfilled one hundred per cent.

For 12 years of exploitation a unique scientific laboratory was formed aboard Mir. It includes natural science complex, consisting of 9 spectroradiometric instruments, astrophysics laboratory of 6 powerful telescopes and spectrometers, 4 technological furnaces, 6 medical diagnostic complexes and other unique equipment (see appendix 1). More than 240 units of scientific equipment with total mass equal to 11 tons are placed on the complex, 4 tones of them are foreign equipment from 27 countries. Altogether more than 16660 sessions of the experiments in 10 research fields were carried out on the complex: technology, biotechnology, geophysics, research into natural resources and ecology, astrophysics, medicine, biology, materials science, engineering, defense-oriented researches. The proposals on the program of scientific researches in priority directions with using newly developed equipment (appendix 2) which are to be carried out at the final stage of the exploitation of the complex Mir are prepared.

In the process of carrying out the program the colossal experience of international cooperation was gained, including the fulfillment of works under 89 international contracts.

Realization of the program is provided by versatile cooperation of the organizations and enterprises, working in the field of high technologies. Taking part in the program, besides scientific and technical achievements, provides their financing in the difficult economic conditions of contemporary Russia.

2. Technical condition and the possibility of continuation of the exploitation.

The possibility of continuing the exploitation of the complex in the conditions of the inevitable obsolescence and depreciation of the on-board equipment providing the achievement of the necessary level of safety has been one of the most important and always controlled problems during all the term of exploitation of the complex Mir. The solving of this problem is carried out according to the thorough, always renewing program of supporting and extending the period of the exploitation. The program includes the complex of measures which are carried out by head designer with wide attraction of the system contractors, major industry institutes, Ministry of Defence and Department of Health's organizations and others. For the period of exploitation of the complex unique experience for this field was gained, it is based on the long- term forecasting of its technical condition, periodical extending the exploitation term and special, constantly improving technology of repair and reconditioning work, including the work in outer space.

The last long-term forecasting of the possibility of exploitation of the complex, undertaken in 1996-1998 showed that according to the main parameters (durability, tightness, resource performances of the throw-away systems) complex Mir with consideration of the working out measures can be exploited till 2002 with preserving the necessary resources according to the main exploitation parameters and safety.

At present by the conclusion of the General Designer the complex is permitted to the exploitation till the end of 1998 with the following extension of the term in established order. The technical condition of the complex Mir shows the absence of any symptoms, indicating the need of stopping the exploitation ahead of schedule.

Among the failures at present classified as the throw-away ones (on technical as well as economical reasons) are:
- depressurization of the module Spectrum on June 25, 1997, as a result of its collision with the spacecraft Progress M-34 (the module was isolated from the complex, and only its solar batteries are used according to the special technology);
- non-tightness of the hatch for "entrance" in outer space on the module Kvant-2 (the technology of carrying out "the entrances" was corrected to provide the fulfillment of this operation).

On the complex Mir there is also a number of malfunctions which are in the state of "waiting for" repair and reconditioning work and which do not affect the possibility of continuing the safe and piloted flight. The number of these malfunctions (from 2-3 to 10) is constant during all the period of exploitation; it points to the absence of accumulation of the failures and malfunctions as a result of inevitable deterioration of equipment.

According to the cosmonauts V.V.Rumin and U.M Baturin who have recently flight on the complex Mir, the latter is in a good condition, there are no any symptoms of the necessity to stop its exploitation in the piloted mode.

Solving the problem of the possibility of continuing the exploitation of the complex Mir it is necessary to take into consideration that the maintenance of its exploitation is provided by regular carriage of life-sustenance means, spare equipment and using materials by cargo and transport spacecrafts Progress M and Soyuz TM. This work is carried out according to the very intensive schedule, meanwhile manufacturing of the delivering equipment takes 1 year and more, constructing of the spacecrafts - 2 years. The long-term recesses in manufacturing or reduction of the output below the critical level are inadmissible for preservation of the stability in the production of the complex space equipment. Owing to the absence of the crafts and launching vehicles being constructed, delivering loads this aspect is the most critical from the point of view of the possibility of continuing the exploitation of the complex Mir and providing its guided safe sinking. The beginning of work to develop the International Space Station (ISS), when the main amount of work to support the orbit and provide vital functions activity of a crew is to be done by the Russian side, affects negatively on the possibility of continuation of the Mir's flight, because of increasing number of the necessary launches and considerable increasing of the production of delivering equipment.

3. Negative consequences of stopping the exploitation of the complex Mir.

The main direct losses connected with the stopping the exploitation of the complex Mir are caused by the loss of large quantity of the scientific equipment being on board, by negative influence on the mastered technology of carrying out the piloted flights of the constantly-working orbital stations and by the menace of disintegration of the cooperation, which proved its effectiveness and vitality in the difficult economic conditions.

Possible indirect losses are caused:

4. Proposals on the further exploitation of the complex Mir.

Removal of the complex Mir from the orbit should be done after launching of the service module (SM) of the ISS and starting its exploitation in the working mode. The unique scientific equipment of the complex Mir should be transferred to the SM for preservation and continuation of the program of the scientific research. The transference can be done by the spacecrafts Soyuz, Progress and Shuttle. Cosmonauts A.O.Kizim and V.A.Solovyev on the spacecraft Soyuz T-15 in 1986 successfully fulfilled the similar operation: the equipment from Salut-7 was transferred to the complex Mir.


  1. The complex Mir is in working condition and provides carrying out the programs of scientific researches and experiments, including international ones.
  2. The technical condition of the complex Mir gives the opportunity to continue its exploitation in a piloted mode till 2002 and more.
  3. Removal of the complex Mir from the orbit should be carried out after introduction of the service module of ISS in the working mode and transference of the scientific equipment from the complex Mir to it.
  4. The exploitation of the complex Mir is reasonable to continue with maximum attraction of the international participants, including share base.

Deputy General Designer

Deputy General Designer