Shuttle MIR Program Lapel Pin
In the arena of space exploration, the U.S. and Russia share a history of competition and cooperation.
Image left: Artist's rendition of the Space Shuttle Atlantis docked to the Kristall module of the Mir Space Station. Image credit: NASA.
As early as 1962, U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev began talks to cooperate in space. The first major effort at working together was the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.
In 1992, the U.S. and the new Russian Federation renewed the 1987 space cooperation agreement and issued a "Joint Statement on Cooperation in Space." Subsequent additions to the agreement outline the development of the NASA-Mir program.
By the time cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev became the first Russian to fly aboard a space shuttle in February 1994, plans for U.S.-Russian cooperation in space had moved well beyond Shuttle-Mir to the International Space Station.
The Shuttle-Mir Program was filled with historic 'firsts.' Besides Krikalev's flight as the first Russian aboard a shuttle, astronaut Norman Thagard became the first American aboard the Mir Space Station, where he spent 115 days with his Russian counterparts in March-July 1995. Later that year, STS-71 became the first shuttle to dock with Mir.
Between March 1995 and May 1998, NASA and Russian scientists conducted experiments designed to answer vital questions about how humans, animals and plants function in space, how our solar system originated and developed, how we can build better technology in space and how we can build future space stations.
From February 1994 to June 1998, space shuttles made 11 flights to the Russian space station Mir, and American astronauts spent seven residencies onboard Mir. Space shuttles also conducted crew exchanges and delivered supplies and equipment.
Shuttle-MIR missions included: STS-60, STS-63, (Thagard Increment),
STS-71, STS-74, STS-76, (Lucid Increment), STS-79, (Blaha Increment), STS-81, (Linenger Increment), STS-84, (Foale Increment), STS-86, (Wolf Increment), STS-89, (Thomas Increment) and STS-91.
NASA employees often design "mission patches" to symbolize their projects and programs. Shuttle-Mir's mission patch description reads: "The rising Sun signifies the dawn of a new era of human spaceflight, the first phase of the U. S./Russian space partnership, Shuttle-Mir. Mir is shown in its proposed final on orbit configuration. The Shuttle is shown in a generic docking tunnel/Spacehab configuration. The Shuttle-Mir combination, docked to acknowledge the union of the two space programs, orbits over an Earth devoid of any definable features or political borders to emphasize the Earth as the home planet for all of humanity. The individual stars near the Shuttle and the Mir station represent the previous individual accomplishments of the U. S. and Russian space programs. The binary star is a tribute to the previous U. S./Russian joint human spaceflight program, the Apollo Soyuz Test Project. The flags of the two nations are symbolized by flowing ribbons of the national colors interwoven in space to represent the two nations' joint exploration of space. NASA SHUTTLE and are shown in the stylized logo fonts of the two agencies that are conducting this program."