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In June 1997, the Russian Mir space station was violently struck an unmanned supply vessel, as it attempted to dock.

Mir immediately began to leak air. All power, systems and communications were down for 6 hours, while the cosmonauts struggled mightily to tamp the leaks in their 3mm-thick flying tin can and used the Soyuz module rockets to stabilize the spiraling Mir craft.

The Soyuz is uncannily still in operation and it is the main workhorse, that ferries scientists to the International Space Station (ISS).

British astronaut, Michael Foale, in this video recalls how he was on board at the time and remained on Mir for another month until the US Space Shuttle docked with the Mir and picked him up.

The Mir module, which was the Earth’s largest artificial satellite before the ISS was built, entered into orbit decay about a year after this mishap and it finally broke up and burnt to a cinder over the Pacific Ocean in March 2001.

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Alexandra Bruce

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