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What Is a Mir?



What Is a Mir?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.77

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    consecutive, spacecraft, burning, original, descendant, first-hand, economic, launched, take-off, atmosphere, shuttle, cargo, cramped, orbit, cancellation, travelers
     content words:    Soviet Union, United States, Station Freedom, On February, On June, South Pacific Ocean, International Space Station


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What Is a Mir?
By Jane Runyon
  

1     Mankind has dreamed of traveling in space for hundreds of years. We wondered what other planets were like. We wondered if life existed on other planets. We wondered and dreamed. It wasn't until the 1950s and 1960s that man made a serious attempt to answer all of his questions about what space was like.
 
2     Scientists made long range goals about space travel. First, they knew that they wanted to be able to see if space travel was safe. Then they made plans for trips to the moon. They wanted to be able to get a first-hand look at our nearest neighbor in space. They realized that if they were to conduct travel among planets and moons, there would have to be a workplace in space.
 
3     In February 1986, the Soviet Union launched what it hoped would be the first section of a space station that could be inhabited by space travelers. This space station would orbit around the Earth like a satellite. The Soviets named their space station Mir. Mir can mean both world and peace in the Soviet language.
 
4     The Soviets had launched their first space station in 1971. It was called Salyut. Salyut was meant to dock shuttle spacecraft that the Soviets intended to launch at a later time. Mir was to be a scientific laboratory that could be inhabited by scientists studying space.
 
5     In a move that surprised many countries around the world, the Soviets agreed to work with the United States on this project. The United States would build a space station that would connect to the Salyut to form a shared working station. The United States' part of the station would be called "Space Station Freedom." Unfortunate circumstances led to the cancellation of these plans. A little less than a month before the launch of Mir, the American space shuttle Challenger broke apart upon take-off as it was heading into space. That put a halt to U.S. plans for about a year and a half. Near the same time, the Soviet Union also broke apart with many smaller countries taking the place of one larger country. The Soviet space program no longer had the financial support of a large country.

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