People in the west sometimes do have a poor knowledge of Russian space achievements. For instance, the Mir space station caused a great deal of media interest when there was a fire on board, and a collision with a ferry craft. But the Mir had been operating for many years by the time it started to show some failures. When its first module was launched On February 19, 1986, America’s NASA was still years away from building a multi-module space station. Mir’s first crew, Leonid Kzim and Anatoly Solovyev, blasted off for a rendezvous, and after two months aboard Mir, they took their Soyuz capsule for a fifty-day visit to an old station, Salyut 7, then flew back to Mir for three weeks before heading for home. It was an impressive accomplishment, far ahead of anything that any other country could achieve.

The docking of modules by robot control, and the use of Progress cargo supply ferries, again with no crew aboard, was always astonishing. In the last few years, Europe and Japan have developed similar abilities, but NASA is still way behind in this important skill for resupplying space stations.

We do make very clear in our book, Yuri’s Day: The Road to the Stars, that Russian achievements are the basis for international presence in space today.

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