Spektr (Russian Спектр, spectrum ',') is the name of a scientific module, with the Russian Mir space station was expanded in 1995. Spektr was known in particular through international cooperation and by a collision with a cargo ship.


On behalf of the Soviet Ministry of Defense, the manufacturer Tschelomei developed in a top-secret military project a space-based system to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles. As in other projects of development on the proven foundation of the TKS spacecraft was resorted to simplification. The original plan was for the equipment of a TKS spacecraft with interceptor missiles of the type Oktava with appropriate sensor technology for detection and tracking of enemy ICBMs. The prototype of this system should be first tested independently in space and then docked for intensive testing of the equipment by a crew on the space station Mir. Towards the end of the Cold War and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, the military space program was largely discontinued. The highly advanced project Spektr was stopped and the previously built prototype initially preserved.

In July 1993, a joint space program between the U.S. and Russia, it was decided to realize a long-term goal of an International Space Station as a permanently inhabited outpost of humanity in space. In order to gain the necessary experience signed Russia and the U.S. to set up in 1993, the shuttle -Mir program over ten shuttle flights to the Russian Mir as well as long-term stays of U.S. astronauts on the space station. In addition to a lump sum payment of approximately 400 million U.S. dollars, NASA provided additional funds available to convert to a civilian research Spektr module and start to Mir. In return, Russia, U.S. experiments and equipment in Spektr obliged to take.

One significant change additional space for two more solar panels to power the station was created with energy at the rear part of Spektr instead of Oktava missile facility. As with the other modules, the maximum diameter was 4.1 m; by the installation of additional solar cells at the tail formed Spektr at around 14 meters, the longest expansion module. The pressurized interior was approximately 62 cubic meters. The small airlock, which was originally intended to suspend Target Dummies, supplemented by an external robot arm and modified for suspension of experiments in free space. The planning phase of the renovation was completed in 1993 and the first launch scheduled for 1994.

Start and Installation

However, the installation and customization of NASA equipment to Russian standards, delayed the completion of Spektr, so that the launch on Proton could only take place on 20 May 1995. Spektr was thus the first module for the space station, which could be started after the collapse of the Soviet Union and some five -year break, the construction sequence. With a starting weight of around 20 tonnes corresponded Spektr about the other modules on TKS -based Kvant -2 and Kristall. The automatic docking was performed after twelve days of autonomous flight on 1 June 1995, first in the usual way at the axial docking point of the coupling nodes of Me. In order to provide sufficient space for the solar panels and around the axial docking to evacuate for Soyuz spacecraft and Progress cargo, took place a day later by the robot arm to Me the implementation of the radial position opposite Kvant -2. This had to be first approved by crystal, which was treated prior to installation of Spektr to 90 °. Spektr remained until the controlled crash of the entire complex on 23 March 2001 in space.

Scientific tasks

It is noteworthy that the original military equipment has been completely removed and the empty shell has been completely refurbished by Spektr. During the renovation was meticulously respected the fact that the facilities of the military project does not fall into the hands of the Americans, so that to this day, not all details of the original furnishings are known. After the conversion, there was the first time NASA scientific equipment on board the Russian space station.

The primary task of Spektr after the renovation was to Earth observation and remote sensing of the Earth. These Spektr had facilities for the exploration of the Earth's atmosphere and geophysics, in particular the detection of mineral resources. By means of a lock converted experiments were attached to the outer wall, and the effects are researched cosmic radiation. Inside were found along with equipment needed for the Shuttle -Mir program American devices for materials research, biological research and explore the fundamentals of operating a space station. In addition, Spektr served as living and working area for American astronauts.

A special feature of the four x -shaped solar modules arranged Spektr distinguished externally greatly from the other modules. With an area of ​​approximately 65 square meters together produced this almost seven kilowatts of energy that could be stored in corresponding accumulators. This turned Spektr the main electricity supplier to Me and in particular for the modules crystal, SDM and Priroda is that operated mostly without their own solar panels.


On 25 June 1997, the unmanned cargo ship Progress M -34 collided in the automatic docking with Spektr. The collision occurred because of an error in the testing of a new control and system approach. In addition to a severe damage of the delicate cells of the collision caused a hole in the outer skin of Spektr, whereby the air pressure on board the entire space station fell off. At the time of the collision I was occupied with the cosmonauts Vasily Ziblijew and Alexander Lasutkin and American astronaut Michael Foale, who were by the pressure loss in acute danger. Instead of leaving the station with the docked Soyuz TM -25, the crew of the damaged module immediately hermetically shut, but had to cut hastily moved more by the docking cable and hose connections.

At the time of the accident was the most important Spektr module of the Mir for the generation of electricity. Due to the damage to the cells and by the separation of compounds with important during sealing of the Spektr solar panels from Spektr could no longer be turned in the sun and they no longer give the generated power to the station. This initially lost all power of Spektr and almost half of the total energy of the Me. After the accident, thus lacked the power for operation of experiments and of the basic installations of Me. Furthermore, NASA lost through foreclosure, many of their experiments and the astronaut Michael Foale most of his personal equipment, as these were housed mainly in Spektr.

The first attempt at repair was made in August 1997 under the mission Soyuz TM -26, in which the cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyov specially trained and Pavel Vinogradov were specially brought to the space station. They got into space suits to an "internal exit " into the evacuated Spektr module and repaired the main line and several damaged when sealing off harnesses. It succeeded as an essential first step in the controllability of the solar cells and the majority of the energy restored.

Other notable attempts to rescue the module were a five-hour spacewalk on 1 October 1997 during the visit of the Space Shuttle Atlantis ( STS -86), in which the spaceman Vladimir Titov and Scott Parazynski attached a special cover for sealing the leaks in Spektr. The decoupling of the space shuttle Spektr was tentatively put under pressure, and in spite of the cover could observe and photograph the escape of gas, the crew of Atlantis. After several further attempts to repair a gas leak was also in the second and the last shuttle visit in June 1998, this time by the crew of Discovery (STS -91), observed from the damaged module. Even the last crew aboard Mir ( Soyuz TM -30) tried in the context of a final alighting in vain to locate the leak. The seal of Spektr thus never succeeded, so that the module after the accident and only two years life remained unusable until the end of me for scientific work. However, the necessary inter alia for the unmanned aerial supply me with energy could be ensured and the controlled re-entry.


No other module of the Mir illustrates the drastic change in the strategy of space programs as well as Spektr: Once developed as a military project of the Cold War to fight the U.S., Spektr will later be co-financed by the U.S. and used scientifically. Spektr has thus, as also contributed to other components of Mir, much allows shared space program and the political approach of the formerly hostile nations.

Furthermore, it was discussed after the collision with the transport spaceship Progress M - 34 with the Spektr module of the station at length about the safety of space stations. The initial critical voices in particular on the part of NASA, who refused to send more astronauts to Mir were finally overlaid by a program on crisis management for space stations. In this area, significant knowledge could be gained for the operation of a space station in the context of the use of Spektr. To date, such rescue techniques at the ISS did not apply fortunately.


  • Harland, David M.; The story of Space Station Mir, Springer- Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York 2005, ISBN 0-387-23011-4