The Demise of

After several years of mishaps and close calls, the decision was made to discontinue use of the Mir Space Station and to concentrate on the collaboration with the international community on the International Space Station. Early in 2001, the Mir Space Station was de-orbited and allowed to crash into the South Pacific Ocean. At 12:55 a.m. EST on March 22, 2001 (05:55 Greenwich Mean Time), the Mir station was 50 km (31 mi) above Earth's surface. At 12:58 a.m. EST (05:58 GMT, 8:55 a.m. Moscow time) fragments of the station hit the ocean.

Alix Bowles, Project Coordinator for MirReentry.com watched the space station break into pieces as it streaked through the sky from a beach in Fiji. "It was a stunning blue steak followed by a sonic boom," he said. "The pieces had a blue incandescence to them. There was something very peaceful about it," he added.

In its later years, the Mir station had become the butt of late-night television jokes, but, in fact, it was a productive scientific instrument and an important test bed for technology used on the International Space Station. Mir lasted years far longer than its designers had envisioned.

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