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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pop the Cork, Mir Turns 10

Surpassing all expectations, the world's only functioning space station marked 10 years in orbit Tuesday with Russian officials hoping to keep it aloft into the next century.


While space officials bragged about Mir on earth, two Russians and a German were thought to be holding their own quiet celebration in orbit somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.


"I suppose they will drink something," Valery Udaloi, deputy chief of flights at the mission control center in Kaliningrad, said of Sergei Avdeyev, Yury Gidzenko and Thomas Reiter.


"Every cosmonaut has a private bag of personal things, and I presume they will open the bags and drink what they stashed away."


The decade mark was reached Tuesday at 12:29 a.m. Moscow time. A Soviet rocket carrying the first module for Mir had blasted off Feb. 20, 1986, from Baikonur on the steppes of Central Asia.


Still immersed in the Cold War, Soviet officials gave no size or weight specifications of the mysterious station at the time, saying only that it contained six docking ports to accommodate visiting spacecraft or laboratory modules. Experts said it was only supposed to last until the early 1990s.


Now, an expanded Mir is the centerpiece of a space program badly in need of cash, and Russian officials called a news conference for later Tuesday to ballyhoo the achievement.