The International Space Station is pretty tops, hosting all sorts of events like Google Hangouts and jam sessions that make you feel like you're really there. But for as cool as it is, it's a Johnny-come-lately on the space station scene, and geeks of a certain age -- yours truly included -- can be forgiven for having a special place in our heart for the space station we grew up with. On February 20th, 1986, Russia's Mir space station was launched into orbit, where it remained an orbital center for science and research until it plummeted back to Earth in 2001.
The International Space Station is slated for a watery death, sunk into one of Earth's oceans. The Russian Space Agency has announced its intention to sink the ISS sometime after 2020, once it has reached the end of its operable time. The decision to sink the ISS was made because leaving it in space would pose a risk of debris left in orbit and such "space junk" can be problematic. The ISS was launched in 1998 and was intended to operate for 15 years (until 2013) however, an agreement was recently reached that should keep it functioning until 2020. By sinking into oceanic oblivion the ISS will follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Russian space station Mir, which was sunk into the Pacific Ocean in 2001 after 15 years in space.