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This Week in History

Listen to and learn about events that happened this week in history—including politics, war, crime, inventions, entertainment and fashion. An archive of events that have shaped history — for learners and teachers of English, with vocabulary, audio recordings and quick quizzes.

19 February 1986

Russia Launches The First Space Station

Russia launches the first modules of the MIR space station into orbit around the earth.

In 1986, Russia launched the first of several modules of the MIR space station into orbit around the earth. It was the first permanently inhabited space station and was assembled by connecting several modules, each launched separately from 1986 to 1996. The space station could support as many as six crew-members at any one time. These included not only Russians but astronauts from several other countries, among them the USA and Afghanistan. The MIR space station continued to orbit the earth until March 23, 2001.

launch (verb): start; propel into space
module (noun): a part of a whole; a unit
permanently (adverb): with no end; not temporary
inhabited (adjective): currently having residents
assemble (verb): put together; construct

Transcript: Shortly after midnight Moscow-time the big Soviet rocket lifted into orbit the base module of what is intended as a permanent manned space station. A statement by TASS, the official news agency, said the space station was launched in honour of next week's Communist Party Congress and was named "Mir", the Russian word for peace. The statement said the spacecraft has docking ports for six other modules and when completed will contain work space for scientists and economic endeavours, plus small separate living quarters for each of the cosmonauts aboard

Test your understanding:

The MIR space station remained in orbit for around

  1. ten years
  2. fifteen years
  3. twenty years

The space station was made up of

  1. several connecting modules
  2. astronauts from several countries
  3. six crew-members at any one time

The modules of the MIR space station were connected

  1. before they were launched
  2. while they were being launched
  3. after they'd been launched into orbit
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Contributor: Matt Errey