A good piece about the docking of the Space Shuttle Atlantis & the Space Station Mir.
Last year something amazing took place, but it wasn't in a laboratory. It wasn't under the ocean, and it wasn't on the land. It was in space. The docking of the United States's Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Russian Space Station Mir was an important step towards international cooperation in space.
This is not the first time the U.S. has been in contact with Russia in space matters. In 1965, an American Apollo capsule and a Russian Soyuz module were locked in orbital tango 245 miles above the earth, both crews tense with the feeling of peace and rivalry at the same time. In the past few years, American astronauts have used the Russian training facility at the Cosmodrome to prepare for work on the Mir space station. We couldn't give up the hope of peace and freedom.
Launch Day had arrived; June 29, 1995. During launch and ascent, there wasn't much to think about except the thrill of the ride. Then the tension rose. In less than thirty-six hours, they would have to close a gap of four thousand miles at an altitude of 245 miles while traveling at 17,500 miles per hour, only to have to move within three inches and two degrees of a quickly moving, very fragile object in space. One small thrust of a poorly aligned engine could cost one of four space-worthy shuttles and the world's first and only long-term space station.
Docking was over with soon, and was followed by the cosmonauts of Mir greeting the astronauts of Atlantis. Gifts of flowers, candy and fruit were given by the Americans, who in return, following a Russian tradition, received gifts of bread and salt. Knowing the importance...