Air and Space Photos from Alternate Worlds.

(I played with Shipbucket space parts and had some fun)

Alternate Soviet space station. Experimenting with Vostok capsule, they added to the equipment module a ''Tyagash'' life support system to enhence the power and duration capacity of the spacecraft. The ''Zarya'' have a space laboratory connected to the capsule capable of housing one man and many scientific experiments. Both serving as a space laboratory and a long duration mission, the Zarya also served as a stepping step for larger space station concept.
Launched in 1966 in a modified N-8 launcher with a larger 2nd stage and a longer 3rd stage, Zarya stayed inhabited and used for 40 days before the crew put the craft in a reentry trajectory before ejecting themselves and key scientific results in the Vostok capsule.
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(idem, I took most of the part from shipbucket)

The success of Zarya encouraged the Soviet Union to build another Space Laboratory but the limited funds and launcher availability prevented to build on the ground large structure to be launched up. So they experimented with docking and space maneuvering. They first launched a modified Tyagach module with a locking part and used a modified Vostok Capsule to chase and lock with the module. Appart from troubles with the locking mechanism, the cosmonauts were able to track, chase and meet with the target, due to the inability to actually enter the Tyagach module and the almost exhausted fuel, they undocked shortly after and reentered into the atmosphere and landed (roughly) on earth. The success of this experiment greatly cemented the modular design of their new space station, allowing small, light enough part to be launched from earth and assembled in space into a far larger structure then it would have been possible to launch.

While their was wild plans about the new ''Zvezda'' Space Station, the lack of funding and a very cautious attitude toward the capacity to assemble a functionning and liveable structure in space meant that Zvezda was planned carefully and had a limited number of modules. Their would be a Tyagach module with propulsion and basic electronic, guidance, electricity and atmospheric control, a ''Dom'' Utility Hub with additional oxygen, fuel cell, experimental air recycling system and consumables, and a ''Zreniye'' Multipurpose Laboratory with microgravitic experiment, medical experiment, inboard telescope and a docking module to allow comonauts to enter the station without the need to EVA and a pressurization/depressurization protocole. The now versatile Tyagach module was fitted with not only a more sturdy and reliable locking dock but also electrical connexion to allow electricity to be shared with other modules. A similar lock but with a docking port was installed on both Dom and Zreniye.

The need to transfer cosmonauts into a station meant that they could not rely on a simple modification of the Vostok capsule, so the Soviet inspired themselves of the Mercury capsule, the long ''neck'' would be used to house a docking port and parachutes, protected from the worse of the reentry by the heatshield at the bottom. The ''Perevozka'' Capsule had also the great advantage of being light enough to be launched via a slightly modified Zarya laucher, keeping the heavier 2nd stage but retainning the N-8 unmodified 3rd stage, renamed ''Perevozka'' launcher. While smaller and less capable then the american Gemini, the Perevozka would be a great leap compared to the Vostok capsule as its form allowed a better reentry control, as many test proved.

The first dual launch was the Tyagach and Dom module. Put on a stable low orbit of 355 km above earth, the Dom module waited in dormancy that the remote controlled Tyagach tracked and chase it. The approach and locking procedure was a tense moment for the Soviet as every command had a slight delay that needed to be accounted for. But after tenses hours, the locking was confirmed and the electronic connexion between Tyagach and Dom were confirmed a few minutes later. While the launch pads were cleared for the next dual launch, Dom was slowly awaken by the controlers, opening its system one by one to not overwork both the Tyagach communication arrays and Dom computers. With the successful opening of Dom solar pannels and stable electric feed, the tension dropped as their was no more the risk of having to use the fuel cells and drastically reduce the station life-spawn. The next month saw the last dual launch with Zreniye laying in a lower orbit while the Perevozka capsule and the cosmonauts Anatoly Filipchenko and Vladislav Volkov chased the module. With human at the helm, the engineers were less stressed about the docking but the others were much more weary, due to the risk of actually loosing 2 men in case of a catastrophic incident. But under the steady hand of Filipchenko, the Perevozka capsule and the Zreniye module were locked togheter. But right after this first success, the next step had to be taken, so they put the combined craft into the sane orbit as the Tyagach-Dom modules and started to chase them. One day latter, after numerous ajustements, they were in sight. The last part was much more difficult as the visibility was quasi nul, having to go by instruments and instructions from the ground. While the ground team initially wanted to activate Tyagach propulsion to help with the maneuver, consultation with the cosmonauts made them drop the idea; it was hard enough to reach the ''still'' target, having to track for its movement would be just adding difficulties. But with care and a slow approach, the Dom and Zreniye module connected and, after a last light push, locked togheter. Relief from both heaven and earth could be heard.

After opening the pannels, the two cosmonauts took a well deserved rest while the atmosphere within the newly complete space station stabilized and was monitored from the ground. After weaking up, they got the confirmation from ground team that it was ''technically'' liveable, while still in his pressure suit for safety, Volkov squeezed himself in the tiny conduit and opened the last pannel, officially connecting the space station to the capsule. After receiving the ''go'' from ground control, he removed his helmet and took his first breath in the station. When Filipchenko asked for his report, he allowed himself a little joke by answering ''A little dry''. They both removed their pressure suit in the ''roomier'' Perevozka capsule and found that it was much easier to enter the station. There they spent hours on direct check up of the systems from the Zvezda controls, insuring that everything was in order and then started to work on unpacking the experiments. At the end of the ''day'', Volkov slipped into the inboard sleeping bag strapped on Dom wall while Filipchenko slept in the Perevozka capsule (as safety in case something going wrong, allowing at least one cosmonaut to escape). The next day was a busy one with starting and monitoring the experimental air recycling system, set up and start many microgravitic experiment. Despite their professionalism, the two cosmonauts struggled to acheive all their tasks within the charged schedule. After the exhausted cosmonauts went to sleep, ground control decided to give up some non time essential experiments and lighten the schedule with small breaks, allowing to a more flexible timetable. This quickly proved to be a wise decision and the mission finnished with the new schedule duly completed. As the cosmonauts ejected and flew back to earth, the planner started to wonder if instead of a fixed crew, they could cycle cosmonauts to always have someone on board, either to monitor longer experiments such as effect of microgravity on humans or simply to achieve ''duration achievements'' that could be used as propaganda.

This was put into effect and the second team left one of their own in the station while the pilot came back alone. Launched in 1969, the Zvezda station stayed in orbit for 3 years. No less then 9 Zvezda missions were conducted, with the rotation arrangement allowing non-soviet (but soviet-aligned nontheless) cosmonauts to be flown both for prestige and financement for additional experiments. Zreniye and its telescope allowed both space and earth high definition pictures to be brought back to earth (in negative, devlopped on earth) while the medical experiments allowed to monitor the muscular and bone mass reduction in space. But while the ''ground planned'' structure allowed an optimization of the station it also prevented it to be improved and adding additional modules. In addition, the station small size that allowed it to be launched cheaply was also a limiting factor, the Perevozka rotation quickly forced both cosmonauts to sleep in the station, exarcerbating the cramped space in the station. A common joke for cosmonauts coming back from Zvezda would be to say that: ''We were as brothers there, as otherwise we would have jumped at eachothers throats !''. But as the last Zvezda mission put the station in a safe reentry trajectory before launching themselves (more) safely back to earth, its future replacement was already planned.
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(idem, I took most of the part from shipbucket)


Great! Thanks for these brilliant pixel spacecrafts!

Here are a few variations of your parts and from shipbucket.
Sadly I don't know enough about space engineering to know weather my variations are realistic.

I decided, that we need to dock your "Perevozka" with a Soyuz. Also we need a larger Soyuz variant for longer missions.
Here are also several configurations to dock a Soyuz with several variants of your Space Station. I also decided to create two somewhat larger modules.


Edit (29.05.2020): Credits to: Undeadmuffin for all the space station parts, and Darth Panda for the Soyuz
Edit (31.05.2020): Added Credits to the image
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A rare example of an artwork co-authored by me and another AH.commer. Uruk is better at doing jet planes, I'm good at roundels, so a few years back, we made this. It's a post-WWII jet fighter, the PZL V-10 Dragon (Polish for "Dragoon"), serving in the air forces of the Visegrad Union from my Sparrow Avengers allohistorical setting. These fighters operate under the aegis of the Visegrad Defence Pact, the military defence arm of the Visegrad Union. (Think of my Sparrow Avengers setting as "Crimson Skies in the first half of the 20th century, and Ace Combat and The Right Stuff in the second half of the 20th century". XD It's a dream-come-true for any planehead and rockethead and anyone who likes the idea of central Europe not getting screwed over severely by WWII and communism.)

These particular comparison artworks were always meant to be more of a preliminary look at how the roundels will look on a sideview of jet fighter of this type. (The PZL V-10 Dragon is comparable to a SOKO J-22 Orao, MiG-27 or SEPECAT Jaguar, if it was built by a joint venture of Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians and Ukrainians. :D Let's just say this little beaut is best used as a strike fighter, for pew-pew-ing stuff with its autocannons or various missiles, and dropping the occasional bomb. They have rarely been used in actual combat, most of it as part of international peacekeeping missions outside of the VDP, or as part of the handful of foreign air forces that bought the Dragon into their inventories. The air superiority cousin of the Dragon is the PZL V-14 Rycerz, i.e. "Knight".)

VDP roundel default look, without national roundels (standard and low-viz)

VDP roundel and Polish national roundel (standard and low-viz)

VDP roundel and Czech national roundel (standard and low-viz)

VDP roundel and Slovak national roundel (standard and low-viz)

VDP roundel and Hungarian national roundel (standard and low-viz)

VDP roundel and Transcarpathian national roundel (standard and low-viz)

The VDP roundels are on the "cheeks", as best seen in the default standard and low-viz comparison of the first image. The second to sixth images also show what the jet looks like with the standard and low-viz versions of the national roundels on the tail, in addition to the VDP roundels. The second image shows a Dragoon operated by the air force of the Confederation of Polish Peoples (Poland), the third image shows a Dragoon of the Czech-Moravian-Silesian Republic's air force, the fourth image shows a Dragoon of the Slovak Air Force, the fifth a Dragoon operated by the air force of the republic of Hungary, the sixth image a Dragoon in the services of the Transcarpathian Air Force.

Important disclaimer: Yes, this plane was not made by me, it's a fictional fighter designed by our member Uruk, at my own behest. Speaking of which, I've cooperated with him on designing some of the military jets for the post-war years of the timeline. I have also cooperated in a similar manner with @cortz#9, though he prefers to work with me on the early 20th century designs (and has made some really beautiful ones - hopefully I'll finally share them here in the future).

Stand up and listen to the VDP air forces' instrumental anthem. *planes fly past as part of the official, annual VDP air tattoo*
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(Something I've been dreaming about for sometime)

This is the "Light Frigate, model 2), or LF-02. Based on the famous CR90 hull, and eyeing the market for anti piracy escort and boder patrol, the Corellian Engineering Corporation decided to upgrade the ship for light combat duties. A new version of the combat module of the original CR90 was grafted to the rear of the hull, with elevated turrets to clear the rear firing angles. New sensors and comms were installed, the shield generator was beefed up, extra amour added to the bridge, life support control, engineering and turrets, with newer, more powerfull versions of the engines used, to deal with the increase in mass and volume. The entire VIP/passenger area was rebuilt, to make room for greater combat crew and extra eletronics and to create room for 2 retractable torpedo/missile launchers. An LF-02F version is being being considered, with the entire rear turrets frame replaced by a docking ring that would allow up to 4 light fighters to be towed.

Kometa family LVs mission patches (Polish and Czech).png

KOMETA ("Comet") family of launch vehicles

These are the launch vehicles utilised by the Visegrad Union Space Programme at the end of the 20th century and the early decades of the 21st century. The entire family was built as an adaptable, mostly modular system of launchers, adaptable to various LEO and BEO missions. The Kometa family is manufactured for the VUSP by a joint Polish-Czech effort, by PZL and Letov Kbely. Hence, the PZL-Letov Kometa.

Some more spaceflight stuff from the later decades of my Sparrow Avengers universe. Of course, these are only promotional mission patches, rather than schematics. I plan to create schematics at some point in the future, along with completing the schematics for the older WN series launchers.

1.) Kometa variants

Kometa-OP: LEO-only capability, crewed capsule carrying variant ("O" denotes "orbital", "P" denotes "passenger" or posádka, i.e. "crew").
Kometa-ON: LEO-to-GEO capability, cargo capsule only variant ("O" once again denotes "orbital", "N" denotes nakład/náklad, i.e. "cargo"). To get a rough idea on the capability, think of the Delta IV, a stronger Falcon 9 derivative, or the cancelled Ares IV. A downside is the lower reusability, they have not had a first-stage-return revolution yet, though it might happen in their future. (Certain launch vehicles have experiemented with flyback boosters and parachute boosters instead.)
Kometa-L: The largest, heaviest, BEO-capable and lunar-capable variant. Can ferry both crewed capsules and cargo payloads to various lunar orbits. (The "L" denotes "lunar", obviously.) Instead of a towering, SLS or Saturn style puppy, this is more of a shorter, though still powerful beast. Think of it as an equivalent to the Falcon Heavy, or the cancelled Ares V. (Again, reusability is still fairly rudimentary, mostly down to some flyback booster and parachute booster experiments and early efforts, full reusability will happen later.)

2.) Payloads (by LV variant)

Kometa-OP: Carries the "Kopernik-Taxi" LEO variant of the VUSP's contemporary Kopernik crewed capsule. The K-Taxi capsule is usual for LEO missions, including missions for transporting new crews to orbital research stations, then bringing the departing crew back home, etc. Kometa-OP is also used to launch the Toruń automated resupply capsule of the VUSP, intended for LEO resupply. Only the smaller container version, though.
Kometa-ON: Carries larger cargo payloads into Earth orbits only. Large satellites, satellite deployment clusters, certain space probes, automated resupply ships for space stations, etc. Depending on the configuration, Kometa-ON is capable of reaching either LEO for conventional orbital missions and payload deployment (usually satellite buses and clusters), or GEO, for deploying larger satellites in geosynchronous orbit. Kometa-ON has also been used to participate in building newer orbital stations (new module delivery), to carry orbital observatories and new space probes into Earth orbit, and carry the larger-container version of the VUSP's Toruń automated resupply capsule.
Kometa-L: Used for launching the BEO variant of the Kopernik capsule ("Kopernik-Luna"), for BEO missions, either lunar missions or near-Earth missions. There are tentative plans for the Kometa-L launching a future, "deep space" BEO variant of the capsule, for potential NEA or interplanetary missions, such as a Venus or Mars flyby. In the near future, though, the Kometa-L will only participate in more local exploration missions and in lunar missions, including participating in the construction of an international research station in lunar orbit, and even delivering material-carrying landers to lunar orbit, intended for the upcoming international experimental Moon base construction project.

3.) Non-satellite payloads (overview)

a.) Avia-TAT Kopernik ("Copernicus") - three-seater to four-seater capsule. First VUSP manned spacecraft purpose-built for a wider array of missions, including BEO. To save money, the design process already counted with multiple versions of the vehicle, from the very start. The first is the original lunar variant, which later evolved and was superceded by the BEO variant, built for potential interplanetary missions. The second variant is a "lite" version for common LEO duties (stations, etc.), replacing the aging Concord capsules and referred to as the "Taxi Copernicus" or "Copernicus-Taxi" (think the cancelled Orion Lite). The BEO version is launched mainly on the heavier-lift Kometa variants, while the "Taxi" version is launched by the Kometa-OP variant. The capsules are manufactured in a joint venture of the aerospace companies Avia and Trenčianska aeronautická továreň. Appearance-wise, the Kopernik shares similarities with a more modern-looking OTL Apollo capsule, ESA's older CTV capsule concept or CSTS capsule concept, or the currently in-development MPCV.

b.) Avia-TAT-MNRG Toruń - the automated resupply capsule of the Kometa/Kopernik era of launchers and capsules. It's basically just an unmanned, cargo derivative of a Kopernik capsule. Named after Kopernik's place of birth. The original versions had to be docked manually via robotic arms and were one-use only, but newer versions are now capable of fully automated docking and have a ballistic cargo capsule that can survive re-entry and bring back samples and discarded tech from stations. The capsules are manufactured in a joint venture of the aerospace companies Avia, Trenčianska aeronautická továreň. and Magyar nemzeti repülő gépgyár.

c.) Spaceplanes ?
What about spaceplanes as manned, crewed payloads in addition to capsules ? These are carried on top of the Kometa-OP, with a modified connector ring and without the typical fairing. Spaceplanes are not something I've given much thought of concerning the VUSP agency. The VUSP hasn't developed spaceplanes of its own, but has been participating in the successful French spaceplane programme. Though the states participating in the VUSP would have enough know-how to develop a small one given enough time, the only nations that have made inroads into spaceplanes in my timeline are the French and Germans (mostly in cooperation, especially later on). The largest crewed spaceplane developed so far is not unlike the unrealised Hermes or the in-development Dream Chaser. There are a few more types of spaceplanes, but all of them are small and most of them are unmanned and automated. The VUSP wishlist for the near future includes the development of a licensed variant of a French spaceplane.
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Already in 1972 when ''Zvezda'' was living its last moments, the Soviet engineers were planning its replacement. With their newfound experience with space assembly, they wholeheartedly embraced the modular design but this time, they learned from their mistakes; namely that Zvezda was lacking in improvement capacity. Decided to give themselves breathing room for the future, they designed not only core modules but also secondary connexion hubs, allowing perpendicular connexions, and thus, new direction of growth for new modules. The ''Poyezd'' service module was the bigger brother of the venerable ''Tyagach'' and had been possible thanks to their new rocket that was just made available for the Soviet space program (once the military had a sufficient stock of the militarized version): the N-9 Vulkan. Optimized for low-earth orbit heavy cargo, it was also capable of launching small probes on inter-planetary trajectory, but it was a clear message that the Soviets were abandonning the moon race. Indeed, the lack of interest of the Politburo, the lack of a launcher large enough, the lack of funds for such large project and the much more achievable and successful space station program nailed the coffin of Korolev's dream.
The second module was the ''Kvartira'' utility hub, with additional power outlet, the main communication array and, more importantly, the living space. Made with at least two cosmonauts in mind, the Kvartira module was much more roomier then the Zvezda ''Dom'' module and came with the same amenities but for a larger space.
The third ''main module'' planned was the ''Svyazi'' connecting module; not only did it came with some storage, exterior camera and sensors, but it also had four connecting port, one at each end and two on its side. These three core module would be a bigger station then Zvezda and even if they lacked any scientific interest, would allow not only for longer duration stay but also future improvements.

In 1973, the American seemed to catch up to their Soviet rival with Skylab, while fundamentaly different in term of layout and doctrine, it did allow them to beat the Russian by claimming the title of largest liveable station in orbit, outdoing Zvezda by a few meters cube. Despite its multiple issues and early reentry in 1974, the planners of the Soviet space program feared that the American newfound lead would led their own space station program to be put on the chopping bloc, so they pushed the first launch while the Svyazi module was not even completed. Since the Poyezd and Kvartira modules would allow cosmonauts presences, having the new space station run as fast as possible with ''men in the air'', it would become harder to cancel it. In 1977, 5 years after the end of the Zvezda space station, the N-9 Vulkan was brought on the launching pad of Baikonur. It was not the first launch of the rocket, already heavily tested in its military nuclear missile form, but it was its first mission for the Soviet space agency. With Poyezd carefully secured in its third stage, the rocket roared into the sky, finnaly reaching the 355 km orbit after abandonning two stage during the way. To the Soviet controllers relief, Poyezd responded as expected, extending its brand new solar pannels wings and confirming to earth that it was fully fonctional. For the next month it orbited earth alone while on the ground, the Soviet ground team worked around the clock to prepare the next, ambitious, dual launch. Each on their own pad, the N-9 Vulkan and its older but small brother the N-8 Perevozka, stood finnaly under the Kazakh sky. One with the Kvartira module and the other with the Perevozka capsule and the cosmonauts Anatoly Filipchenko , a veteran of the previous Zvezda program, and Aleksei Gubarev, a recruit from the new batch of cosmomauts trained for the new Mir program. Once the countdown reached zero, the N-9 rocket soared toward space while the cosmonauts made the last checkup on their own space ship. The vital Kvartira module was put in the same 355 km orbit as the Poyezd and waited for its future inhabitant to catch up. It didn't had to wait as long as Kvartira as a few hours later, the trusted N-8 excaped Earth gravitic well. Once in orbit, Filipchenko tracked Kvartira with help from the controllers on the ground, its Perevozka capsule closing on its target. With care and a steady hand, the two craft were locked togheter. Although they could have boarded the module, it wasn't for now as they still had to reach the Poyezd service module. The two cosmonauts took a quick nap while the ground crew approached their target, using its own engine and radio command. When they woke up, they only had the connection to make. Fed with the complete informations and a pre-calculated trajectory, the two men barely had to rely on their instruments to finnaly join the two modules togheter. After the ground team opened the hatch between the service module and the utility hub, after the controllers confirmed that the atmosphere was breathable, Gubarev finnaly crawl in the conduit and entered the still embryonary Mir station.
The cosmonauts spent much of their time monitoring the station power, air recycling, temperature and gyros, insuring that every systems were nominal. Then they unpacked consumables, additional filters, and medical supplies. Filipchenko and Gubarev even tended their sleeping bag in their ''room'', small alcoves on the wall of the Kvartira module to take their first ''night'' in the new Soviet space station. Due to its incomplete nature, the embryonary Mir station didn't offered much in term of scientific value for its first mission, the crew mostly made radio experience, orbital tests, monitoring and medical survey on themselves. Having learned their mistakes both from Zvezda and the American Skylab (which shared similar overworking issues as the Soviet experienced with Zvezda), their schedule was kept light and flexible. After a few months, Filipchenko and Gubarev exchanged turn a new team, they came back to Earth with their (limited) results and shortly after their triumphant return, another dual launch was preparing itself on the Kazakh plain.

The Svyazi module would be the turning point of the station, once in place, it broke from the Zvezda linear tradition and introduced side extension. Unfortunately, the Soviet didn't realized the full potential of this possibility as both the ''Pirs'' Docking/EVA module and the ''Mekhanik'' Arm/Exposition scientific module would be dead end. Pirs would, however, allow multiple space capsule to dock with Mir as well as space walk capacity. Mekhanik was not only the first scientific module but also the introduction of the ''Korabl'' space capsule. At first designed as a long duration capsule, it was found that Perevozka could not only carry more people, as another seet was squeezed on later model, reaching 3, but the marginal longer space duration was unecessary since the whole point of the Mir space station was to house cosmonauts for long durations. But it was saved by its modular design, allowing modifications. Korabl was doted with a mechanical arm, similar to the Mekhanik module but smaller and more compact. This allowed the addition of modules which could not be locked and maneuvered via dock, the arm would secure them while Korabl use its thrusters to put it in place. Thanks to Korabl, Mekhanik was secured in place and scientific work could finnaly resume. With its own scientific arm, small hole in the module tube allowed cosmonauts to put samples to be retreive via the arm and secured on the strut rails, allowing multiple experiments to be exposed to space void for various duration. Despite being optimized for void experiments, Mekhanik would be used for two years as the main lab of Mir while other modules were still in construction.
Pirs had an interesting design, wanting the module to be capable of extend to keep the arriving ships as far as possible from Mir (especially clear from the solar pannel), but also retract to keep a small profile when not in use, it possessed a folding tunnel made of thick fabric, secured with metal webbing connected to small electric motors that allowed the extension/retraction motion. While seemingly working as intended once installed, the motors and the joint in the metal webbing proved to be a constant headache, needing frequent repairs. It was a joke amongst the comsmonauts that Pirs had an EVA module so they could repair it. Worst, micro puncture began to be observed in the fabric due to the repeated folding/unfolding, while the cosmonauts had a easier time fixing those by simply applying tape, it was an additional design flaw that ended with Pirs being left permanently extended. The next Pirs module was finnaly built with a solid alluminium tube instead of the folding design, while a little heavier and unwieldy to maneuver in place, it was infinitively simpler, reliable and energy-saving then the old design.

While the Svyazi module had storage, camera, sensors and additional amenities to ameliorate Mir, it was expensive and slow to make. To accelerate the station growth, a cheaper replacement was made to add more extension, and thus the Rukopozhatiye module was born. While having oxygen tube and power cables to allow connectivity, it was smaller, less costly and had litteraly no amenities bar the side connexion. Importantly, it would be ready in time for the next big module: the ''Zavod'' laboratory. It was the main effort for the Soviet scientist as it possessed furnaces for alloy, plastic and cristal making, x-ray machine, electronic assembly bench and exposition module. It also had cosmic ray detectors and cosmic dust detector. Its roles were diverse but focused on the material science such as cristal growth in zero-g, alloy making and resistance, plastic molding in zero-g and plastic resistance to outer-space conditions, how electronic composants react to vacuum, cosmic ray, micro-gravity and studies on super-conductors working at space temperature. The laboratory planned location allowed the external pods to be reachable by the Mekhanik arm so samples could be installed on the Mekhanik module strut, allowing a larger amounts of samples to be tested in same time.
Thanksfully for Mir, the engineers who tested the various elements of the Zavod laboratory sent the power consumation of the module working at 100 % of its capacity and it was discovered that more energy would be needed to avoid blackouts. The ''Grom'' power module was a simple tube with alternators, batteries and brakers connected to a strut with multiple solar pannels, their was a small alcove that the cosmonauts could reach through the hatch to access easily the electrical componants but the main mass of the Grom was unaccessible. A dual launch of Vulkan and Korabl space capsule allowed the parralel installation of Zavod and Grom. The additional crew of the Korabl capsule even docked through the accessible Rukopozhatiye port to help them in bringing the componants into working condition, even doing an EVA to do an external check up on the Grom solar pannel and unjamming one stuck wing.

During the next year, the activities on Mir led to the station to become cluttered with tests, supply and other miscellanious, becoming an hindrance to the work of the cosmonauts. The team on the ground listened to the situation in orbit and worked during the next year on the next module; ''Korobka''. Korobka was a storage module containning notably refrigerated containment for perishables and medical supplies. In 1982, Korobka was launched and installed on Mir. The crew had hard days collecting, sorting and stocking the various modules, supplies and test in their new module. The extra power consumption, while far from endangering the station, would limit future module power availability so another Grom power module was sent and installed next to Korobka, giving to the station and ample amount of electricity.
For four years, Mir stood in that stage as the Soviet government was cutting the space program funding. Despite the treasure trove of scientific experiments, observation, international collaboration with Soviet-aligned or Soviet-friendly powers that were allowed a seat in the Perevozka capsule and prestige for both the communism bloc and the regime, the numerous economical reforms and the ever growing military spending meant that for those in power, Mir was fine in its current form and did what it was expected to do, their was no incentive to keep investing for more expensive, top-technology, modules. The only addition to the Mir rooster was a new capsule. With the increase in scientific and human presence, supplying the station became an headache for the planners. Perevozka didn't had enough cargo hold to supple effectively the station and, like Korabl, demanded a cosmonaut pilot. Quickly it was found that few cosmonauts liked the idea of flying ''Bread delivery'' and even if they could just demand it, their two ship were not optimized for cargo and would need too many launch to effectively supply the station. Korabl, thanks to its modular design, was modified once again with not only a larger cargo holding capacity but also computer control, allowing it to be piloted from the ground. It was the birth of the ''Braststvo'' Supply Capsule. With a single launch it could hold three time the cargo capacity that either Perevozka of Korabl and could even bring back small samples while the rest of its body could be filled with trash and be burnt back in the atmosphere in the same time. The lowering of the supply cost while increasing its capacity allowed also a spacing of the missions and flexibility with duration as well as record breaking for time spent in space.

In 1986, Gorbatchev allowed a larger budget to the Space program as a way to distract the public from the Chernobyl accident and combat the idea that the Soviet Union was a decaying empire. Indeed, the Soviet space program was always a source of pride and success for the Soviet Union and its citizen, with many young boys dreaming of becoming cosmonauts and living in space, in the mythical Mir station. With the larger budget, they could finnaly build the next expension. For the planners of the Mir program had not stayed idle during the last four years, many modules were drawn and planned, their plans laying in a closet, waiting for the chance to be concretized. The first module to be complete was the ''Semashko'', it was both an experimental air purification system composed of a oxygen production and carbon dioxyde scrubber and a purpose built medical facility for monitoring blood pressure, weight, cardiac activity, dental health etc. It also possessed a radiator system which used panels to evacuate the heat into space without needing a power-hungry refrigeration system. The second one was a simplified Kvartira module called ''Druzhba'', without power source or communication array it however possessed more bed, amenities but also treadmills for exercise and keeping muclemass. The instability in Soviet Union pushed the planners to accelerate the growth of Mir, as they feared another round of budget slash. Another Svyazi module was commanded and an additional Rukopozhatiye, but modified to possess six port, to give more growth possibility.
When in 1988 the Svyazi module was finnaly installed, one of the rare dual launch was used to add a Pirs module. Indeed, with a capacity to house 4 cosmonauts for long duration, the higher number of Bratstvo supply missions meant that a ports needed to be constantly open while the first one was occupied by a Perevozka. But the more interesting addition was the ''Tsentrifuga'' science module, a centrifuge used to simulate gravity for object under 50cm, from 0.1G to 2G. Just before the end of 1988, the modified ''Hexagonal Rukopozhatiye'' was installed on Mir while the team of Cosmonauts stayed for celebrating the new years with the four other members, bringing six men in space in the same time, the largest crew in space in the same ship.

In 1990, amongst the chaos of the Gladnost and Perestroika, the ''Kvant'' astrophysical laboratory was freshly finnished and hiked atop a Vulkan rocket, sent to space, sent to Mir. This new module possessed X-ray telescope, gamma ray detector, radiowave detector and a ultraviolet telescope. One year later, it was the ''Glaz'' scientific telescope, composed of a high-resolution camera, spectrometer, infrared telescope and a X-ray sensor to augment the Kvant telescope capacity. During the chaos of 1992 and the fall of the soviet union, their was little plan by the soviet space agency beyond keeping and supplying a squeleton crew but the new scientific modules were power hungry and began to cause black out in the station, forcing the crew to shut off other experiments (the Tsentrifuga module was the main target as its vibration was sometime causing issues to other experiments). With only penny in saving, they could not afford expensive Grom module, they targeted the solar pannel as the main expense of Grom, not the battery, accumulators and other electrical gizmos of the module base. They decided to send two cheaper ''Iskra'' module, a Grom with only one folding solar wing, in addition of providing more batteries to accumulate power, they could be stacked in a single bus and launched in a single N-9 Vulkan. While some engineers were disheartened by loosing two port for expension but with a bleak future ahead, it was found more essential to secure the station and the cosmonauts inside.

But after securing those two module with the last dual launch of the Soviet Union in Baikonour, with a lone Korabl capsule whose pilots worked for 13 hours with only a small 2 hours break, it would be the last additions for the three blackest years of the agency. In 1993, the newly christened Russian Space Agency barely had enough funds to keep the lights on. In fact, they realized that the 1994 budget would probably not be enough to sustain a human presence on Mir, this caused a serious concern amongst the planners as the station would need to be put in dormancy and they feared that they would not have enough time to do it properly. However, a crazy plan was proposed: to keep a cosmonaut on Mir to keep ''the light on''. It was crazy because it was not known if they could supply or extract him if something went wrong due to lack of fund but when exposed to cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, he accepted without skipping a beat. In 25 october 1993, he reached Mir and began his long duration stay. It was presented to the public as a long-duration experiment, representing a trip to Mars duration. His first job was to close non-essential modules to save power and prevent wear-out, then he settle on a strictly monitored regime. While the first months went pretty well, especially as in december a Bratstvo service capsule was sent with extra consumables, lifting his morale, but also because it was pretty similar to a regular mission, which he was a veteran. But he began to feel worst when the months accumulated, concerned, ground control changed his regime to create a light routine, to not overburden the lone spacemen. After the first year in space, repeated concern for his mental health from ground concern despite Polyakov reassurence created probably the most original and successful Mir program. Across the moribund Russia, they approached the schools and made a contest where students would propose questions they wanted to ask to the cosmonauts and the winners would be invited in Star City, in Moscow, to ask and hear Polyakov answer. This revived interest in Mir and even had an international outreach, with demand that the contest be extended to other countries. It was decided that the first round would be reserved for Russian and a second round would be proposed to other countries. This event is often cited as the main reason why Mir was saved. A dozen Russian students could exchange with the cosmonauts in October and in December, it was a dozen of foreign students from across the world that repeated the experience. The 22 March 1995, a restored Perevozka capsule reached Mir and the duo Aleksandr Viktorenko and Yelena Kondakova exchanged place with a weakned but still in full control of his cognitive functions Valeri Polyakov who came back to earth with all the samples that could not be transmitted by radio. When leaving the capsule, Polyakov insisted to walk by himself to the chair that was waiting for him, taking hesitant, wobbly but proud steps alone on the Earth that he left for 513 days, shattering the previous acheivements. After his return, he would spend 6 months under medical surveillance, both to monitor his health but also restore his bone and muscular loss. His stunt had been a treasure trove of data about the human body in space, his monitoring before, during and after the mission persuaded the researcher that mental health could be maintained in space far longer then physical health, allowing longer duration mission, like toward Mars possible.

While Polyakov was recuperating safely on Earth, the Russian Space Agency was planning its next expension. Thanks to the stabilisation of the economy, their increased budget had allowed the completion of two critical modules: the ''Rodnik'' and ''Milyutin'' scientific modules. The Rodnik was composed of water tanks, a experimental water recycling filter from urine, an experimental shower, dehumidifier and condensator, as well as additional gyrodyne for altitude control. Closely tied to the role of Rodnik, Milyutin was a scientific module with hydroponic pods, greenhouse, biological enclosure and a cupola. Sent in space and assembled during the year, it allowed a specialization and efficacity in the experiments. It also helped that 1995 was also the year that the space cooperation treaty signed in 1992 was put in full effect with many European astronauts cycling in Mir. But the high point was in 1996 with the American mission to the Russian space station. The shuttle had been equiped with a module to connect to the loose point of the Rukopozhatiye module to keep clear of the station. The mission would be a success not only diplomaticaly and scientificaly but also financialy as the Mir mission had proved to be beneficial to the young Russian nation. Amidst the flew of international partners that visited Mir in 1997, the American came back for another round of partnership but also experimenting with long duration stays as they wanted experience for their own Space station that they were planning.

While everything seemed better for Mir, in 1998 a small fire in Kvartira module would cause a near disaster. Although controled and extinguished, and the crew not being in danger, it exposed the dilapidated state of the station, already 21 years old. Indeed, it was discovered that the wire isolation had begun to degrade and it was probable that much of the soviet parts could share the same issue. It became a debate about what to do with Mir, if it was the time to retire it or not. The american proposed that the Russian joined their project with the space station Freedom, to create an international space station, with Europe and other partners. It was a very tantalizing proposition, especially for the still economical shaky Russian republic, as many pointed out that if they de-orbited it, their would be no funds to build another space station. But others pointed out that this risked of plunging Russia from a leader in the space inhabitation domain to a secondary partner, whose space program would be at risk from foreign whims. And, of course, for many Russian, Mir had been a symbol of pride but also endurence, through the troubled time, a symbol that despite the fall of the Soviet Union, they were still a great power. So, it was decided to save Mir. The Russian space agency worked tiressly to find ways, working with ex and veteran cosmonauts and engineers as well. Finnaly, in 1999, at the eve of the new millenia, a Vulkan errupted from Kazakhstan with a Poyezd service module for Mir. Once in place by itself at the end of the Rukopozhatiye module thanks to its own engines, the cosmonauts began to connecting it to the station link of power, water and air. As the plan was to shut down the old Poyezd that chugged from 1977 and begin a three years long restoration project not only on it but on all the station. It was during these repairs that it was discover the extensive moss problem on the station, as well as globe of condense water with bacteria devlopping in it, hidden behind pannels. Samples of each were taken by the (disgusted) cosmonauts to be examined on Earth. It was hypothetize that the frequent closing of sections due to power or manpower issue prevented a good flow of air, allowing moisture to accumulate behind pannels. These were great issues, not only for health but also a fire and electrical hazard, that showed the poor status of the station and how critical the repairs were. It proved to be expensive, along 1 billion dollar on 3 years, including the rockets and resuply of not only consumables but also spare parts including expensive solar pannels that needed to be changed due to micrometeorites damage.
While saving the Mir space station, this solution also marked its final status as all its ports were used and their was no funds left for additional ones. While international cooperation and even private flight to the station continued along the 2000', the launch of the Freedom Space Station drastically reduced the lucrative american involvment that started in 1996, even if in 2007 an american astronaut boarded a Perevozka capsule to join a research project. Mir stayed the largest man-made object in space as well as the largest inhabitation in orbit until 2009 and the Freedom-2 missions that brought the final modules to the american station. The two stations captured the collective imagination, not only by their different design but because it was seen as a stepping point for living in space. Mir continued to provide invaluable scientific information until 2012, when it was found that both Poyezd air recycling started to fail and needed emergency repairs. Despite the Semashko heroic efforts in keeping the atmosphere in the station stable for spare parts to be flown, it highlighted that despite the expensive repairs of 1999, Mir had reach old age and its systems would begin to fail. What truely spell its end was a Korabl flight sent to check on a exterior communication system of the end Poyezd module, notl only did they realized that the damages were too expensive to be fixed from space but a survey of the station exterior showed how degraded its alluminium sheet was, with fabric and foam pocking out of larger micrometeorite impacts. In 2014, a last mission was sent to decomission the venerable space station, bringing back whatever could be usefull to save. Oleg Ivanovich Skripochka and Dmitri Yur'yevich Kondrat'yev , the two last cosmonauts sent to Mir, said that they felt ''like gravediggers'' and tried to take as much picture of the station as the schedule allowed to ''keep its memory alive''. Once the two men were safely back to earth, the station was put on a rentry from the ground and burned south of the Indian Ocean, spraying the water with debris to rest eternally in their underwater grave. It was the end of 37 years of productive service under two flag, two ideology but it forever live in the heart and imagination of multiple generations of peoples who looked at the sky in hope of a better future.

OOC: Big thanks to Zurirach Adankar, from whom I took the ''Bratstvo'' model
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