Mir Flies On for the Next Generation

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Sample Research Essay (6 paragraphs)
Title: Mir Flies On for the Next Generation
Introduction: Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise beams you aboard. As your molecules come back together, he gives you a tour of the spotless flight deck. It’s filled with clean crew members working on equipment that’s all in perfect shape. That’s TV. The Russian Mir space station is reality, and life there isn’t glamorous. Mir astronauts are more like the early pioneers who risked their lives but kept going and made their mission a success.

Research: Mir’s struggles begin with the space station itself. Mir is an 11-year-old laboratory that made its 69,560th orbit of the earth on May 1, 1998. That’s 1.83 billion miles! In addition to having high mileage, Mir has a computer system that is ancient. Since Mir blasted off in 1986, astronauts have had to fix 1,500 problems on the ship. Most were small, but a few were big. PARAPHRASE: In February 1997, a fire shut down an oxygen generator. Then in June 1997, a spaceship carrying supplies to Mir crashed into a solar panel (Chien 97). Many times, the crew sits in the dark because there isn’t enough power to work the computers or do experiments.

Research: Like the pioneers who headed west in covered wagons, Mir astronauts have learned to do the best they can with what they have. For example, Mir astronauts wear their cotton T-shirts, gym shorts, and socks for two weeks! The astronauts wear the clothes day and night and even exercise in them. After two weeks, astronauts just pitch the stinky stuff into space where it burns up in the earth’s atmosphere (Hoversten).

Research: Life on Mir isn’t glamorous. In fact, it’s not even healthy. The humid air makes mold grow, and the molds spoil the food. The crew can’t wash well, and infections spread quickly, especially when new astronauts come on board. After their bodies are weightless for a long time, the bones in their lower hips and spines get weaker (Chien 99). Then, when astronauts go back to Earth, they have more problems. They have poor balance, weak muscles, and severe soreness (Covault 76).

Research: The living conditions on Mir would make even Captain Kirk return to Earth. Fans hum nonstop. The smell of gasoline hangs in the air, and food is served up freeze-dried. Right now, the shower is broken, so the crew has to take sponge baths. Even sleeping is hard. Jerry Linenger is an astronaut who spent 132 days on Mir with these problems. QUOTE: He said, “There’s something about it [life on Mir] that makes you feel, ‘Yeah, I’m on the frontier’ ” (Hoversten).

Conclusion: SUMMARIZE: Even though life on Mir isn’t glamorous, and equipment often fails, the Mir astronauts have had lots of success. Like the pioneers, the astronauts have found many useful things that help explorers who follow them. But maybe Mir’s greatest success is that astronauts from Russia and the U.S., two old enemies, have worked together as friends (Chien 99).

Works Cited

Chien, Phillip. “Space Jalopy.” Popular Science May 1998: 96-99.

Covault, Craig. “Mir ‘Lessons’ Preview Future ISS Flights.” Aviation Week and Space Technology 9 Mar. 1998: 76-78.

Hoversten, Paul. “Life on Mir, or, roughing it on the ‘frontier’.” Florida Today: Space Online. 20 Aug. 1997. 10 Sept. 1998

Wolf, David. Interview. NASA Shuttle-Mir Web. 14 Nov. 1997. NASA. 10 Sept. 1998

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