Fifteen years ago today—on March 23, 2001—the Russian space station Mir descended from the heavens in a dramatic flourish. Here’s how NASA describes it:
After more than 86,000 total orbits, Mir re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on Friday, March 23, 2001, at 9 a.m. Moscow time. The 134-ton space structure broke up over the southern Pacific Ocean. Some of its larger pieces blazed harmlessly into the sea, about 1,800 miles east of New Zealand. Observers in Fiji reported spectacular gold- and white-streaming lights. An amazing saga and a highly successful program finally had come to a watery end.
Below are a few more stunning images captured before Mir’s demise, taken from a great new Instagram account I just found, TravellingThroughSpace: