The Story of the Mir Space Station

Juergen Ast | Karlheinz Eyermann

Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editors:
Johannes Unger | Juergen Tomm


astfilm productions | ORB | SFB // ARD

It was the pride of the cosmic superpower Soviet Union. For almost 5.000 days, 370 kilometers above earth, it has orbit the earth. More than 100 spacemen and scientists from different countries used it as a space lab and a long time living quarters. It survived world political crises, economic turmoil and even the breakdown of the USSR. Now, it has fallen into disuse. Without finding investors from the West in time, the Mir, the centerpiece of the Soviet cosmonautic, will be automatically turned off on a day in July or August 2000. 11,5 tons of steel will then come crashing down on earth, burning up when entering the atmosphere, or disappear in the ocean after hitting the earth's surface.

The Mir, which means "peace", is the last thing left behind by the Soviet Empire. In the time of "Star Wars", the space station was designed as a part of the Soviet alternative concept to the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative. But after theend of the Cold War it has lost its military value. The political breakdown and the economic decline of Russia let the technical masterpiece Mir became nearly a weightless piece of scrap metal. Due to more and more malfunctions, it often looked as if the Mir has to be shut down immediately. Now, as a matter of fact, its end is near. The Mir has to clear the way for the international major project "Alpha", a coproduction of Russia, the United States and Europe. The first basic modules for the new space station are already assembled in space. Political "hawks" in the Russian government and the persons in charge of the Russian space agency, at present they try hard to keep the Mir "alive" , but the countdown is on. The documentary tells the story of the legendary Mir space station, its time of greatness and its inexorable end.