Strapped for cash, the Russian higher-ups wanted to see if long-range docking on the station was possible to do manually, so they could remove the expensive automatic equipment. The crew was tasked with the experiment in June, and quickly found the answer to be a decisive "Hell no." They managed to fumble two separate tests on remotely controlled crafts. The first one sailed past the station into the black abyss. The next attempt was much worse.
That craft crashed right into the station's solar array ... and then smacked right into Mir's Spektr module. Spektr began to depressurize extremely rapidly, so the cosmonauts rushed to shut down and seal off the section completely. It would never be reopened, lest they all die a horrible death in the vacuum of space ... but hey -- disaster averted!
"You have exactly four seconds to take this picture before the cabin depressurizes."
Or, as it turned out, not. The Spektr module happened to be the very unit that was keeping the station alive. Thus, when they shut it down, the entire station lost power. This caused it to turn from a functional space station into a drifting coffin for the crew inside, and it took weeks of frantic repairs to get the station back to an approximate working order.
As their six months finally came to a halt, the EO-23 crew was all too eager to change guard and returned to Earth. As a final "F you" from their doomed mission, the landing rockets of their Soyuz failed to fire on touchdown, treating them to one of the roughest landings ever experienced by a returning crew. Still, that had to have been the sweetest goddamned rough landing of their lives.
For more dangers of outer space, check out The 6 Weirdest Dangers of Space Travel and 6 Reasons Space Travel Will Always Suck.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover why E.T. may not be as cute and cuddly as we remember.
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