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Shuttle pilot and commander Charles Precourt describes seeing Mir, in his Oral History.
He says, "It starts out as a little star . . . this twinkling little star . . ." Then the shuttle follows Mir "from the sunlit side [of Earth] to the dark side . . . and you can see, with each successive [revolution], [the Mir space station] starting to get larger and larger. . .
"But for me," says Precourt. "it kind of reminds me of . . . these science fiction movies where Luke Skywalker is flying in on his ship and lands on the big station in the hangar. . . because that's really what you're seeing - this outpost . . . against black space [with] this huge planet's horizon in the background, and if you just take your imagination one step further, you are arriving from another galaxy to this Space Station outpost in some other solar system. . .
"You can put yourself in that little world fairly easily," according to Precourt. "That's what it feels like, because you're arriving at this outpost. And to see something that's just little speck grow into something that has shape and [then] realize there [are] people living in that thing is pretty phenomenal. . ."
Descriptions of Mir
Profile: Charles Precourt
Charles Precourt Oral History (PDF)
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty