Priroda (Russian Природа, nature ') is the name of the last six academic modules with which the Russian space station Mir was extended to 1996. The use of Priroda was especially made ​​possible by collaboration between the space powers USA and Russia. Priroda was mainly used for earth observation and housed next to geophysical research institutions experiments of twelve nations.


Originally Priroda was planned for the combined military and civilian remote sensing of the Earth. Aboard new space-based sensing devices for military observations and for the detection of mineral resources should be explored. As with the previous modules, the manufacturer Tschelomei sat on the proven TKS modules in order to implement the construction quickly and cost-effectively. However, the construction was delayed in particular by constantly changing political interests by several years. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, were finally all means, especially for military space projects, deleted without replacement, so that the work had to be set on Priroda, and the module is preserved along with the already largely completed Spektr module from the manufacturer.

Just one year later, the two major space nations USA and Russia agreed in 1993 to a joint civil space program. To get your own experiences to build and operate a space station, NASA offered a stake in the operation of the Mir space station. In addition to a lump sum payment of 400 million U.S. dollars, NASA provided additional funds to complete and the start of Spektr and Priroda modules ready. In return, Russia, U.S. equipment instead of military facilities to accommodate in the modules and U.S. astronauts undertook to allow extended stay aboard Mir.

Actually Priroda should like the preceding modules are also equipped with solar cells. However, delayed on the one hand, the construction and assembly of solar cells, on the other hand offered to Me with the increasing expansion there is not enough space to unfold the solar cells in space can. Further, the weight of PRIRODA by international conversion increased still further so that first dispensed to the installation of a facing in the direction of flight the solar module and the supply is provided by other modules of the I, especially spectr. For testing the functions in space Priroda instead of the solar cell was fed by a battery supply unit, which should ensure the operation of the systems for a period of autonomous flight.

Start and Installation

Due to construction work due to the changed requirements and the parallel completion of the Spektr module Priroda could be started only on 23 April 1996 aboard a Proton rocket from Baikonur. Due to an error in the electrical burst directly upon entry into the Earth's orbit around half of the power supply together. All consumers are not needed despite shutdown without its own solar cells remained only enough energy for a single automatic coupling experiment with the space station, what with previous modules, the required number of Andockversuche, concern ground staff excited because of problems. After shortening the orbital maneuvers and accelerated approach to the Priroda I could couple with the axial docking at the coupling node in record time after only three days before landing at the first attempt on April 26. From there took place the next day the implementation by the robotic arm of the I to the final radial position relative to the crystal module already installed. After the reaction, Priroda was connected to the energy system of the Mir and taken by the crew in operation. The supply batteries no longer needed in the interior were removed and disposed of with the unmanned space freighter Progress M -31.

Scientific tasks

Similar to other research modules Priroda possessed a usable interior of approximately 65 cubic meters, which was divided by a partition into two sections: the smaller external instrument section was used for the application of research institutions and as storage space for experiments and material. The larger area presented further living and working area for the crew of the Mir. In addition, the outer skin of the module to mount and sensors of experiments was used. It is remarkable that Priroda under international participation next experiments of Russia and the USA also the starting point for research from ten other nations, including Germany, was.

Focus of the research was the civilian Earth observation, including by sampling with microwaves, infrared and Spektralkameras. Several experiments aimed to pollution monitoring and determination of influences of mankind on the environment. In the context of geological studies and surveys of the earth's surface ore and water resources have been explored and the development of mass deforestation and resulting erosion observed. Furthermore, experiments on the effects of the oceans to the atmosphere, the enrichment of the atmosphere with gases as well studies of ocean waves have been made. In addition, Priroda served as a relay station in a Russian tsunami and earthquake early warning system.

For the outer shape of Priroda a side lying over large radar antenna and within the framework of a spacewalk subsequently axially mounted solar power plant shall prevail.


Although Priroda was the youngest Mir module, 2000 failure of the power supply and the general neglect of the module were already so far advanced that the last crew could not accept any of the installed in Priroda facilities longer in operation during the last Mir mission in years. This Priroda was like the most delicious whipped Spektr module without major repairs no longer usable. Other defects in the aging space station scattered last hopes which I continued to operate. Plans that I integrate fully or at least partially into the new International Space Station, has subsequently been abandoned and in particular the insistence of the United States. Nevertheless Priroda has contributed along with Spektr and other components of Mir on the approximation of large space -faring nations. Based on experience with Priroda and Spektr, the United States later decided to completely buy the Zarya module of the TKS series from Russia, thus laying the foundation for the International Space Station.


  • NASA Mission and Spacecraft Library: Priroda ( version dated 27 May 2010 at the Internet Archive )