The project of the MIR, (Soyuz-8) space station began to form in 1976 when the "Energy" Institute had released its proposals on the creation of an advanced, long-term space station. In August, 1978, the outline of a new station had been revealed. In February, 1979, the work on creation of a new-generation space station had begun – starting with the main block (core), and the onboard and scientific equipment. But at the beginning of 1984 all resources had been reallocated to the program, "Buran" and work on the station was practically frozen. Only after pressure from high-ranking politicians was the project was resumed, with the goal set to finish the first station module by the XXVII congress of Communist Party (due in March, 1986).
The core module had been put into orbit on February, 20th, 1986. Then, within 10 years, one after another of six more modules were added: Soyuz, Progress, Kvant and Kvant-2, Kristall, Spektr and Priroda. One more addition was made in 1995 – never the part of the original project – the Space Shuttle Docking compartment, enabling US Space Shuttle to dock at MIR.
Starting from 1995 international crews began visiting the station. Overall 15 expeditions were sent to MIR with astronauts from Syria, Bulgaria, Afghanistan, France, Japan, Great Britain, Austria and Germany. Also, during the MIR-Shuttle program, 8 short-term missions were performed by American shuttles, Atlantis (7) and Endeavor. Thirty-four astronauts visited the station throughout these missions. Overall, 104 astronauts from 12 countries worked aboard the MIR station.
By the end of the nineties, the station began to experience numerous problems and malfunctions of various devices and systems. After some period of time, the government of the Russian Federation, referring to extremely high costs of further maintenance and despite several “MIR-saving" projects, made a decision to abandon the station. On March 23, 2001, the station, which had been operating three times longer than the originally planned, re-entered the atmosphere and disintegrated, with its larger parts crashing into a southern part of Pacific ocean, near the Fiji islands.