Soyuz TM-30: Mir’s final crew

Soyuz TM-30With help from the Russian space program, private corporation MirCorp launches Soyuz TM-30, the final spacecraft to visit the aging Mir space station. Sergei Zalyotin and veteran cosmonaut Aleksandr Kaleri become Mir’s first inhabitants in over eight months, and their mission is to begin refurbishing and repairing the 14-year-old station for what is hoped to be a series of commercial launches, including space tourism and even possibly a reality TV show set aboard Mir. What the two cosmonauts find, however, is that more work will be required than MirCorp can provide; after 72 days, the crew of Soyuz TM-30 returns to Earth, the money having run out before another crew can be sent. Mir will tumble out of its orbit and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in 2001.