Houston, Texas (JFK+50) Twenty years ago today, June 29, 1995, the American space shuttle Atlantis* docked with the Russian Space Station Mir** and in the process the two became "the largest combined spacecraft ever in orbit."
Shuttle commander Robert L. Gibson*** maneuvered Atlantis directly below Mir allowing Earth gravity to brake its approach to Mir. There were a total of 7 crewmen aboard the docked space vehicles.
NASA Chief Daniel S. Goldin described the event as "a dream come true," while his counterpart Russian Chief Yuri Koptyev said...."What has been most important is that this experience has created cooperation and mutual trust."
*Atlantis (OV-104) was built by Rockwell International Corporation & delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in April 1985. Its last flight ended on July 21, 2011. Atlantis logged 4,848 orbits & 125,935,769 miles. OV-104 is now retired & can be seen at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida.
**Mir, meaning peace or world, operated from 1986 to 2001. It was the 1st continuously inhabited long-term research station in orbit & holds the record for the longest single human spaceflight of 437 days by Valeri Polyakov.
***Robert L. "Hoot" Gibson was born in Cooperstown, NY in 1946 & grew up in Long Beach, CA. He earned his Aeronautical Engineering degree at California Polytechnic State University in 1969 and entered the U.S. Navy. RLG became an astronaut in 1979 & retired in 1996. He is married to fellow astronaut, Dr. M. Rhea Seddon of Murfreesboro, TN.
Mir in orbit high over Earth
"Atlantis Meets Mir," March 23, 2008, NASA, www.nasa.gov/
"Atlantis, Mir Link Up in Historic Embrace," by K.C. Cole, Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1995, www.articles.latimes.com/