LONDON (Sputnik) — The Soviet Union began putting parts of the modular space station into low orbit in 1986. Mir was deorbited and fell into the Pacific in 2001 after 15 years in space.
"It could have been maintained, although the question is whether this would have been practical," Sergei Krikalev, a former cosmonaut, told RIA Novosti.
Krikalev, who marked this year 25 years since his first mission to Mir, said the space station had been so well-built technically that it could have served longer. "But flying for the sake of flying was pointless," he noted, adding Russia had been planning a second station and there would not be enough money for both.
But NASA, which was investing in the ISS project, opposed this proposal and Mir was decommissioned after the first ISS module was successfully launched into orbit in 1998.