Five more modules, added between 1987 and 1996, completed the space station. The first, located on the aft docking port, was the astrophysics module known as Kvant-1. Nineteen feet (5.8 meters) long and 14 feet (4.3 meters) in diameter, it contained a pressurized laboratory compartment and a store. Kvant-2, about twice as long as Kvant-1, was the scientific and air-lock module added in 1989 that allowed cosmonauts to work outside the station. It also included a life-support system and water supply. Kristall, a 39-foot-long (12-meter) technological module, was attached to the station in 1990; it carried two solar arrays as well as electrical energy supply, environmental control, motion control, and thermal control systems. In 1995 U.S. astronauts installed a special docking port that allowed the U.S. space shuttle to dock without obstructing the solar arrays. Also in 1995, the Spektr remote-sensing payload arrived at Mir with equipment for surface studies and atmospheric research and four more solar arrays. Mir was completed when the Priroda remote-sensing module arrived on 26 April 1996.

The station could not remain in orbit indefinitely, and two options for closure were available. Mir could be fitted with booster rockets and moved to a higher orbit or simply abandoned and allowed to crash into the ocean. Mir fell into an uninhabited part of the South Pacific late in March 2001. That course of action was chosen so that efforts could be refocused on the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). The decision fits in with the claim of NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) that the nine U.S. collaborations with Mir since 1994 formed Phase One of the joint construction and operation of the ISS.

The ISS is a joint venture of the United States, Russia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Brazil. The first components of the station, the Zarya and Unity modules, were put into Earth orbit in November and December 1998, respectively. Scheduled for completion in 2004 after a total of 44 launches deliver over 100 components, the ISS will have a mass of 1 million pounds (454,500 kilograms) and measure 356 by 290 by 143 feet (109 by 88 by 44 meters). It will orbit Earth at about the same altitude and inclination as its predecessor. A crew of up to seven will have pressurized living and working space about twice as big as the passenger cabin of a jumbo jet. Mir was there first.

Further reading

Brown, Irene K. 1998. New Millennium NASA: International Space Station and 21st Century Space Exploration. Houston: Pioneer Publications.

Harland, David M. 1997. The Mir Space Station: A Precursor to Space Colonization. New York: Wiley.

Logsdon, John M. 1998. Together in Orbit: The Origins of International Participation in the Space Station. Washington, DC: NASA History Division.

Mishkan Ohel Haeduth (the Tent of Witness)

The Mishkan, or sacred tent, was a unique portable temple constructed under the direction of Moses as a place of worship for the Hebrew tribes. It was used during the forty-year period of wandering between their liberation from slavery in Egypt and their arrival in the Promised Land (ca. 1290–1250 b.c.). According to chapters 25 and 26 of Exodus, the warrant and exact specifications for its construction were given by God. The tent seems to have been still in use in the first half of the eleventh century b.c., but it no longer served a religious purpose after Solomon built a permanent temple in Jerusalem in 950 b.c.

Portable shrines existed in Egypt as early as the Old Kingdom (2800–2250 b.c.), and fine examples were discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamen, (ca. 1350 b.c.). But they are small in comparison with the Tent of Witness, which differed from all contemporary religious buildings in several remarkable ways. First, it was the only temple constructed by the monotheistic Israelites, in contrast to the many—often several dedicated to the same deity—built by their polytheistic neighbors. Second, it was never associated with one particular sacred geographical location, peculiar to the deity; rather, it was set up wherever Yahweh, the God of Israel, indicated, in the belief that his presence made every location sacred. Third, it was small and outwardly unimposing,