Remembering near-death dramas on a Russian space station
Once the largest human-made object in space, the Russian space station Mir crashed to Earth 20 years ago this month, ending 15 years of triumph and near-tragedy.
There were 24 minutes of oxygen left in the space station Mir. Michael Foale’s ears were popping from pressure loss as precious air hissed through a hole in the hull.
He sat alone in Mir’s escape pod—a Soyuz space capsule—waiting for his fellow crew members, two Russian cosmonauts, to join him. But they were frantically trying to locate and seal the puncture wound inflicted moments earlier when an uncrewed resupply vehicle collided with one of the linked nodes that formed Mir.
Waiting there in the dark, powerless Soyuz, Foale remembered what he’d been told throughout his training: If you have less than 30 minutes of oxygen left, it’s time to abandon ship.
Minutes ticked away. Still no sign of the crewmen—although Foale could