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Priroda module (77KSI) at a glance:

Launch date
November 1995
Docking date November 15, 1996
Launch vehicle Space Shuttle
Length 5 meters
Diameter 2.9 meters

In 1994, Russia and the US signed an agreement calling for seven Shuttle missions to Mir until 1998. In order to receive the Shuttle, the Kristall module, equipped with a compatible docking port had to be pivoted to the front docking port of the core module. In its usual position, the solar arrays on Mir would prevent the docking. In order to avoid the transfer of Kristall, both sides agreed to introduce an extension to the Kristall module, which would give enough clearance for the Shuttle to dock. In accordance with the contract, RKK Energia would build the so-called docking compartment, which would be delivered to the station onboard the Space Shuttle.

The docking compartment would be also serve as a carrier for two new solar panels, which would be later transferred and deployed on pre-built positions onboard Kvant-1 module. Solar elements on one of the panels would be supplied by the US.

The docking compartment also included its own thermal control, telemetry and TV-transmission system.

In June 1995, the docking compartment completed its first flight, this time onboard giant Antonov 124 transport plane from Moscow to Cape Canaveral.

In November 1995, the Space Shuttle Atlantis delivered the Docking Compartment to Mir during STS-74 mission. The module was initially raised from their cargo bay and mounted on top of the Shuttle docking port. On November 15, Atlantis docked to Mir via docking compartment.



Docking compartment can be seen attached to the Mir space station. Click to enlarge: 356x281 pixels, 32K. Credit: NASA