STS-71 was the third mission of the US/Russian Shuttle-Mir Program and the first Space Shuttle docking to Russian space station Mir. It started on 27 June 1995 with the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle delivered a relief crew of two cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyev and Nikolai Budarin to the station and recovered Increment astronaut Norman Thagard. Atlantis returned to Earth on 7 July with a crew of eight. It was the first of seven straight missions to Mir flown by Atlantis.
The Shuttle–Mir program was a collaborative 11-mission space program between Russia and the United States that involved American Space Shuttles visiting the Russian space station Mir, Russian cosmonauts flying on the Shuttle, and an American astronaut flying aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to engage in long-duration expeditions aboard Mir.