The Shuttle–Mir program was a collaborative 11-mission space program between Russia and the United States that involved American Space Shuttles visiting the Russian space station Mir, Russian cosmonauts flying on the Shuttle, and an American astronaut flying aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to engage in long-duration expeditions aboard Mir.
In the arena of space exploration, the U.S. and Russia share a history of competition and cooperation.
Image left: Artist's rendition of the Space Shuttle Atlantis docked to the Kristall module of the Mir Space Station. Image credit: NASA.
As early as 1962, U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev began talks to cooperate in space. The first major effort at working together was the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.
In 1992, the U.S. and the new Russian Federation renewed the 1987 space cooperation agreement and issued a "Joint Statement on Cooperation in Space." Subsequent additions to the agreement outline the development of the NASA-Mir program.
By the time cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev became the first Russian to fly aboard a space shuttle in February 1994, plans for U.S.-Russian cooperation in space had moved well beyond Shuttle-Mir to the International Space Station.
The Shuttle-Mir Program was filled with historic 'firsts.' Besides Krikalev's flight as the first Russian aboard a shuttle, astronaut Norman Thagard became the first American aboard the Mir Space Station, where he spent 115 days with his Russian counterparts in March-July 1995. Later that year, STS-71 became the first shuttle to dock with Mir.
Between March 1995 and May 1998, NASA and Russian scientists conducted experiments designed to answer vital questions about how humans, animals and plants function in space, how our solar system originated and developed, how we can build better technology in space and how we can build future space stations.
From February 1994 to June 1998, space shuttles made 11 flights to the Russian space station Mir, and American astronauts spent seven residencies onboard Mir. Space shuttles also conducted crew exchanges and delivered supplies and equipment.