Named after “peace,” the Mir space station orbited the Earth for 15 years. One of the Soviet Union’s greatest scientific achievements, the station’s core module launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in February 1986. Over the next decade, another six modules would follow, assembled in orbit to create what was at the time the Earth’s largest artificial satellite. During the station’s lifespan, crews conducted experiments in biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and more.
On March 13, 1986 — 31 years ago today — Soviet cosmonauts Leonid Kizim and Vladimir Solovyov left the Earth to join Mir as its first crew. Two days later, their spaceship docked with Mir, beginning a 51-day stay aboard the brand-new artificial satellite.