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Mir

Mir

The word mir means "peace," but to millions of Russians it is associated with a symbol of national pride. The space station Mir claimed a number of distinctions that are unmatched, even in the early twenty-first century, by the spacecraft of other nations. This station, once a national symbol of the Soviet Union, is gone, replaced by the joint effort of numerous countries to create the new International Space Station.

The History of Mir

The first component of Mir, its core module, was launched on February 20, 1986. It would take ten years for Mir's construction to be completed, a time frame that does not include the continual supply missions to the station. Mir's main component had six ports for the attachment of other modules. These ports were placed in key locations, allowing the station's configuration to be changed.

Soyuz spacecraft, similar to U.S. Apollo spacecraft, were used for transporting cargo to and from the station. Cargo included people, equipment, food, and even trash. During its life a total of forty-six missions were made by the United States and Russia to Mir, including the missions to bring more modules to the spacecraft.

The five additional modules were the Kvant-1, Kvant-2, Kristall, Spektr, and Priroda. Kvant-1 contained astrophysics research equipment. Measuring 5.7 meters (19 feet) long and 4.3 meters (14 feet) wide, it studied neutron stars , quasars radar, X-ray emissions, and active galaxies. Kvant-2 was a multipurpose module that housed the air lock as well as scientific equipment. It enabled biotechnology research, as well as photography. Kvant-2 was over 12.2 meters (40 feet long) and 4.3 meters (14 feet) wide. Kristall housed a zero-g greenhouse and produced high-technology equipment, including semiconductors , in the microgravity environment, and processed biological material. Spektr, which was delivered in June 1995, was used for surface studies of Earth and atmospheric research. The last module, Priroda, was launched in spring, 1996, and employed radar systems, spectrometers for ozone research, and infrared detectors.

By the end of construction, Mir weighed 135 tons, offered 283 cubic meters (9,900 cubic feet) of space, and measured 1.8 meters (6 feet) by 26 meters (85 feet). This meant that with the exception of the Moon, Mir was the heaviest object in Earth's orbit. Over its lifetime, its maintenance cost continued to sky-rocket, and Mir ultimately cost $4.2 billion to construct and maintain. The station was not designed or constructed to last for the 15 years it spent orbiting Earth. It far surpassed the records set by Skylab or the space shuttles for time in space.*

Problems Plague Mir

With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Mir became more expensive than the former superpower could afford. Over the next 10 years Mir deteriorated with age and become more difficult to fix. It suffered from problems with its insulation and glitches during docking and undocking procedures with Soyuz supply craft.

On January 14, 1994, cosmonauts ignored weight limitations on the Soyuz craft and caused a collision with the station. On February 23, 1997, a fire ignited onboard. Luckily, no one was harmed and the fire was extinguished. Less than six months later, on June 25, 1997, Soyuz craft again collided with the station. This time the craft punctured Mir's skin, and air began to escape. Luckily, both cosmonauts and the American astronaut onboard were quick enough to take corrective action, sealing off the breached segment so that there was enough oxygen left for their survival.

As the cost of keeping Mir operable and the risk factor to the astronauts continued to increase, it became apparent that Mir's days were numbered. Attempts were made by both nonprofit and for-profit groups to save the station. As the International Space Station (ISS) began to require the funding on which Mir was dependent, offers came in from different groups to try to save the station. One group of entrepreneurs tried to turn Mir into a destination for wealthy tourists. Wealthy financial analyst Dennis Tito, founder of the investment firm Wilshire Associates, had agreed to pay a rumored $20 million for the experience, but the deal fell through and Russia kept postponing what seemed to be inevitable.*

Mir was damaged, aged, and outdated, but it was not worthless. However, Russia ultimately decided to end the 15-year saga of the Mir space station. By that time Mir's orbit was degrading by almost a mile a day.

The End of Mir

On March 23, 2001, the story of Mir came to an end. After much planning, the Russian space agency decided to send Mir through Earth's atmosphere, breaking it apart into small pieces before its final splashdown in the South Pacific. The area had been used previously to destroy more than eighty other Russian craft.

Everything went according to plan, and Mir broke up into several large pieces and thousands of small ones. The larger pieces made a splashdown in the ocean, with no injuries resulting from the debris.

see also Government Space Programs (volume 2); International Space Station (volume 1 and 3); Long-Duration Spaceflight (volume 3); Space Stations, History of (volume 3); Space Stations of the Future (volume 4).

Craig Samuels

Bibliography

Linenger, Jerry M. Off the Planet: Surviving Five Perilous Months Aboard the Space Station Mir. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Internet Resources

NASA, "MIR Station." <http://www.liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/rsa/mir.html>.

Russian Space Web, "Mir Close Calls." <http://www.russianspaceweb.com/mir_close_calls.html>.

*Mir housed cosmonaut Valery Polyakov, who has the distinction of living in space for the longest period of time in the twentieth century: 438 days.

*In May, 2001, Dennis Tito became Earth's first space tourist, spending ten days on the International Space Station.

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Mir

MIR

The word mir in Russian has several meanings. In addition to "community" and "assembly," it also means "world" and "peace." These seemingly diverse meanings had a common historical origin. The village community formed the world for the peasants, where they tried to keep a peaceful society. Thus mir was, in all probability, a peasant-given name for a spontaneously generated peasant organization in early Kievan or pre-Kievan times. It was mentioned in the eleventh century in the first codification of Russian law, Pravda Russkaya, as a body of liability in cases of criminal offense.

Over time, the meaning of mir changed, depending on the political structure of the empire, and came to mean different things to different people. For peasants and others, mir presumably was always a generic term for peasant village-type communities with a variety of structures and functions. The term also denoted those members of a peasant community who were eligible to discuss and decide on communal affairs. At the top of a mir stood an elected elder.

Contrary to the belief of the Slavophiles, communal land redistribution had no long tradition as a function of the mir. Until the end of the seventeenth century, individual land ownership was common among Russian peasants, and only special land holdings were used jointly. All modern characteristics, such as egalitarian landholding and land redistribution, developed only as results of changes in taxation, as the poll tax was introduced in 1722 and forced upon the peasants by the landowners, who sought to distribute the allotments more equally and thus get more return from their serfs.

In the nineteenth century, mir referred to any and all of the following: a peasant village group as the cooperative owner of communal land property; the gathering of all peasant households of a village or a volost to distribute responsibility for taxes and to redistribute land; a peasant community as the smallest cell of the state's administration; and, most importantly, the entire system of a peasant community with communal property and land tenure subject to repartitioning. The peasant land was referred to as mirskaya zemlia.

Only at the end of the 1830s did a second term, obshchina, come into use for the village community. Unlike the old folk word mir, the term obshchina was invented by the Slavophiles with the special myth of the commune in mind. This term specifically designated the part of the mir's land that was cultivated individually but that was also redistributable. The relation between both terms is that an obshchina thus coincided with some aspects of a mir but did not encompass all of the mir's functions. The land of an obshchina either coincided with that of a mir or comprised a part of mir holdings. Every obshchina was perforce related to a mir, but not every mir was connected with an obshchina, because some peasants held their land in hereditary household tenure and did not redistribute it. With increasing confusion between both terms, most educated Russians probably equated mir and obshchina from the 1860s onward. Obshchina was also used for peasant groups lacking repartitional land.

Although the mir was an ancient form of peasant self-administration, it was also the lowest link in a chain of authorities extending from the individual peasant to the highest levels of state control. It was responsible to the state and later to the landowners for providing taxes, military recruits, and services. The mir preserved order in the village, regulated the use of communal arable lands and pastures, and until 1903 was collectively responsible for paying government taxes. Physically, the mir usually coincided with one particular settlement or village. However, in some cases it might comprise part of a village or more than one village. As its meaning no longer differed from obshchina, the term mir came out of use at the beginning of the twentieth century.

See also: obshchina; peasant economy; peasantry

bibliography

Grant, Steven A. (1976). "Obshchina and Mir." Slavic Review 35:636651.

Moon, David. (1999). The Russian Peasantry 16001930: The World the Russian Peasants Made. London: Longman.

Robinson, Geroid T. (1967). Rural Russia under the Old Regime. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Stephan Merl

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mir (former Russian peasant community)

mir (mēr), former Russian peasant community. The mir, which antedated serfdom (16th cent.) in Russia, persisted in its primitive form until after the Russian Revolution of 1917. In a community of free peasants the land was owned jointly by the mir; in a community of serfs, lands reserved for serf use were assigned to the mir for allocation. The mir, like a corporate body, had an assembly, obligations, and rights; it was responsible for allocating the arable land to its members and for reallocating such lands periodically. Woodlands, pastures, and waters were used jointly. With the abolition of serfdom in 1861 (see Emancipation, Edict of) land was allotted, not to individual peasants, but to the mir. The amount of land allotted, however, was insufficient to support the number of people on the land. Also, retention of the mir perpetuated archaic agricultural methods. After the Revolution of 1905, Stolypin introduced reforms that he hoped would lead to the breakup of the mir. The reforms (1908) were not wholly effective, but many mirs were broken into individual holdings. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the mir remained the basis for local administration and tax collection in the rural areas. With the imposition of collectivization in 1928–9, the mir was abolished and the collective farm was introduced.

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Mir

Mir Soviet space station orbiting the Earth. The main part of Mir launched in 1986. It weighed c.21 tonnes, and had six docking ports for the attachment of scientific modules or cargo vessels. Over the years, various modules attached to Mir, which was permanently manned by a succession of three-person crews. In 2001, Russia decommissioned the ageing space station and allowed it to burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

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Mir

Mir a Soviet space station, launched in 1986 and designed to be permanently manned. The name is Russian, literally ‘peace’.

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Mir (Soviet and Russian space station)

Mir, Soviet and Russian space station: see space exploration; space station.

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Mir

Miradhere, Agadir, appear, arrear, auctioneer, austere, balladeer, bandolier, Bashkir, beer, besmear, bier, blear, bombardier, brigadier, buccaneer, cameleer, career, cashier, cavalier, chandelier, charioteer, cheer, chevalier, chiffonier, clavier, clear, Coetzee, cohere, commandeer, conventioneer, Cordelier, corsetière, Crimea, dear, deer, diarrhoea (US diarrhea), domineer, Dorothea, drear, ear, electioneer, emir, endear, engineer, fear, fleer, Freer, fusilier, gadgeteer, Galatea, gazetteer, gear, gondolier, gonorrhoea (US gonorrhea), Greer, grenadier, hear, here, Hosea, idea, interfere, Izmir, jeer, Judaea, Kashmir, Keir, kir, Korea, Lear, leer, Maria, marketeer, Medea, Meir, Melilla, mere, Mia, Mir, mishear, mountaineer, muleteer, musketeer, mutineer, near, orienteer, pamphleteer, panacea, paneer, peer, persevere, pier, Pierre, pioneer, pistoleer, privateer, profiteer, puppeteer, queer, racketeer, ratafia, rear, revere, rhea, rocketeer, Sapir, scrutineer, sear, seer, sere, severe, Shamir, shear, sheer, sincere, smear, sneer, sonneteer, souvenir, spear, sphere, steer, stere, summiteer, Tangier, tear, tier, Trier, Tyr, veer, veneer, Vere, Vermeer, vizier, volunteer, Wear, weir, we're, year, Zaïre

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