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25 Oct, 2010 17:59

ISS sets record for constant manned spaceflight

The ISS prepares to become the longest continuously-manned space station to orbit Earth on November 2 when it will mark its 10 year anniversary of having a constant human presence in orbit.

But cosmonauts and astronauts have been working on the ISS for longer than on the previous record-holding station – MIR – which was built by the Soviet Union.

MIR was launched at the very start of Perestroyka in 1986.

It hosted 28 long-term expeditions and clocked up 3641 days in zero-gravity, from September 8, 1989 through August 28, 1999.

Later, Russia joined the international team working on the ISS project.

But in the tough 1990s Moscow could not afford to maintain the two stations simultaneously.

So in 2001 Mir was de-orbited and sank into the Pacific Ocean after 15 years of constant work in space – a record the ISS has a long way to beat yet.

By that time, the ISS was already operating in space, having welcomed the first joint expedition of Roskosmos and NASA on November 2, 2000 when the first long-term expedition, consisting of cosmonauts Yury Gidzenko and Sergey Krikalev and astronaut William Shepherd, came to the ISS on a Soyuz TM-30 spacecraft.

The ISS was launched in 1998. Today there are 14 habitable and scientific modules in which the 25th expedition of three Russian cosmonauts and three American astronauts are working.