Notable events in 15-year history of Mir:

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1986: Soviet Union launches core module Feb. 20, predicting station will last three to five years. First crew takes off for station March 13.

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1987: Mir's second component, Kvant 1, arrives but has trouble docking. Crew members find refuse stuck on docking port.

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1991: Cargo ship goes out of control during final approach, nearly colliding with Mir. Chaos and financial troubles accompanying collapse of Soviet Union force Mir's crew to stay in orbit months more than scheduled.

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1995: Cosmonaut Valery Polyakov returns from 438-day mission, more than 14 months, longest continuous human space flight. Norman Thagard becomes first American astronaut to visit Mir.

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1997: Series of dramatic accidents starts Feb. 23 when oxygen-generating canister catches fire, nearly forcing crew to evacuate. On June 25, cargo ship rams Mir, puncturing laboratory module, but crew quickly seals it off. Two days later, computer fails. In July, cosmonaut disconnects power plug prematurely, setting Mir adrift. Month later, main computer fails during cargo ship docking, setting station adrift again.

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1999: Russia announces Mir will be taken out of orbit in 2000 unless new funds found. Crew that is widely expected to be station's last returns to Earth on Aug. 27. Cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev sets record for total time spent in space _ 747 days over three missions.

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2000: Netherlands-based MirCorp, backed by private investors, reaches agreement to lease Mir. MirCorp pays for cargo ship and 73-day mission to Mir. In November, Russian government says MirCorp has not met its obligations and announces Mir will be dumped.

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2001: Russian space officials work through winter preparing to bring down Mir in controlled descent into the South Pacific. On March 22, ground controllers power up the station's orientation system to stabilize it a day before the engines on the Progress cargo ship will be fired a last time sending the station into the ocean.