Home SCIENCE Space Station Collision – Mir Crash with Progress Supply Vessel

Space Station Collision – Mir Crash with Progress Supply Vessel

Of all the 100’s of thousands of pieces of space junk and nearly 1500 satellites in orbit around the earth, it may come as a surprise that so far there has been only one major collision involving a manned craft and it affected both Russians and Americans.

image/text credit: curious-droid

This is the almost forgotten story of the only major collision to involve a manned space vehicle, in this case, the Russian space station Mir and a Progress resupply cargo vessel in 1997.On June 25th 1997 Tsibliev was ordered to carry out the test: this time, the remote camera feed was working.

image/text credit: curious-droid

The cargo vessel was in a parking position about 5km away.The first problem the crew had was just locating the vessel, then after initiating the vessels approach they had no measurements of how far away or how fast it was travelling.


Commander Tsibliev struggled to make out the shape of the space station on his screen against the white clouds of the earth below and using the TV camera alone he found it very difficult to determine how fast the cargo vessel was travelling or its distance.

After the collision, the cargo vessel was moved away from MIR and deorbited to burn up on re-entry.Over the coming weeks, a series of IVA (Intra-Vehicular Activity) operations in the depressurised module allowed the restoration of 70% of Mir’s power.

But the breach in Spektr’s hull was never repaired, and the experiments onboard: mostly American, had to be abandoned.Unsurprisingly, the ‘Kurs’ automated docking system was never phased out, and an advanced version of it is used today to dock the ‘Soyuz’ and ‘Progress’ craft with the International Space Station.