"Mir outlived not only the original manufacturer's warranty but also its parent state, the USSR, by almost 10 years," said Roald Sagdeev, former director of the Russian Academy of Science's Institute for Space Research in an article in the March/April, 2001 issue of "The Planetary Report," the magazine for The Planetary Society's 100,000 members.
"In 1991 and 1992, cosmonauts were launched to Mir from the Soviet Union but they returned to a "different" country: Russia," Sagdeev added. "They discovered that the theory of relativity controls the clocks of history: these move faster on Earth than in space."
Russia plans to bring the Mir spacecraft down in a controlled de-oribt burn this week, dropping the aging station to a final resting place, hopefully somewhere in the South Pacific.
Sagdeev, who currently serves as a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, is the Director Emeritus of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Space Research Institute, and is a member of The Planetary Society's Board of Directors.
In his "Mir Station Obituary," Sagdeev recalls not only the space station's ground breaking historic accomplishments, but also its role as a bridge between long time Cold War rivals in space -- Russia and the United States.
In fact, many people remember Mir best from its final years in operation when NASA shuttles docked there on a regular basis, and Russian/American crews worked harmoniously together in Mir for months at a time.
Academician Sagdeev also discusses some of the controversy about Mir, and the tension between proponents of human flight and the science community in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 80s.
"Farewell to a Cold Warrior: Mir Station Obituary" can be accessed on The Planetary Society's website.