| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |


Star City complex living quarters (Prophy)With the Shuttle-Mir Program, astronaut training took on many new dimensions. NASA’s Mir astronauts, who had previously prepared for Shuttle spaceflights of up to two weeks, now spent many months in Russia preparing to spend up to six months in orbit—on a Russian space station, with Russian crewmates, speaking the Russian language.

The Mir astronauts trained to: ensure crew safety (including a possible emergency descent in a Soyuz capsule); support Mir’s systems and equipment; perform workstation organization; communicate with Mission Controls in both Houston and Moscow; conduct scientific research; and perform station maintenance and physical exercises using Mir’s onboard facilities.

Meanwhile in Houston, the NASA Shuttle astronaut crews selected for the Mir docking missions now trained for new tasks. These included flying with Russians as crewmates, rendezvousing and docking with the Russian space station, and working onboard Mir. Five Russian cosmonauts also trained at NASA’s Johnson Space Center to fly onboard Space Shuttles as members of American Shuttle crews.

This getting ready—the training and preparation—for the Shuttle-Mir missions required frequent travel, lengthy relocations, and innovative institutional support. It also required the two space agencies to adapt to each other’s techniques and philosophies.

Russian zero-g aircraft IL-76MDK on runway Astronaut Shannon W. Lucid and trainer practice floating in Russian zero-g aircraftFor the most part, the Russian and American space agencies used similar training methods, but the mixes of methods differed. In general, NASA required its crews to have more hands-on training and relied more on "sims"—the realistic simulations of spaceflight situations. The Russian Space Agency also used simulations, but it did not veri-simulate as many situations and activities.

Astronaut Bonnie Dunbar in exercise room on Nordic Trac in gym at Star City Underwater training at Star CityNASA's Mir astronauts in Russia spent a lot of time in classroom training before they took final oral examinations. (Until recently, American astronaut candidates were not given formal examinations.) As NASA-3 Mir Astronaut John Blaha put it, "In Russia, they do it the old-fashioned way. A person takes a piece of chalk and he goes to a chalkboard, and you’re sitting as one student or two students, no more. That piece of chalk goes to the chalkboard, and the man starts teaching you a particular system in a Soyuz or on Mir. And, you take notes and you ask questions. When the course is complete, the Russians have another team administer an oral exam to the student."

Mir-18 commander Vladimir N. Dezhurov, right, and fellow crew member, astronaut Norman E. Thagard, practice using a bar-code reader during medical operations training at JSC. William C. "Charlie" Brown, cochair for the training working group, said this training system works for the Russians partly because they have a lower turnover in staff. Once NASA establishes a program, it systematizes the training and relies more on written materials, part-task trainers, and full simulations. The Russians, however, have historically resisted writing things down, partly for security reasons. According to Brown, "Their advantage has been [that] they keep people around for 20 or 30 years, doing the same kind of thing. So, they don’t have that problem of turnover. But, at the same time, they don’t have the portability of, say, a workbook—handing it to somebody and telling them to go home and study it."

Regarding classroom-style training, Shuttle-Mir Program Manager Frank Culbertson said, "The impression of a lot of our people, particularly initially, was that it was not very efficient—that we could come in here, clean house, and do all this in a couple of days and everybody would be thoroughly trained.

STS-91 crewmembers perform a fitcheck in their Launch and Entry Suits (LESs) prior to thei mission: Mission Specialist Valery Ryumin and Mission Specialist Franklin Chang-Diaz in the middeck of the Building 9 Shuttle mock-up"The Russians, for their own reasons . . . based on practical experience, didn’t agree with that, [and they] still don’t agree with that. They still believe that you need a certain amount of this type of training to be really ready to do what we’re asking you to do." Culbertson said he received a postflight note, from NASA-6 Mir Astronaut David Wolf, that said that in retrospect the Russian training methods made Wolf learn the systems in a different way than he would have otherwise. Wolf’s note said, "It made me think about [the systems] rather than just read about them, and it made me exercise the language and the jargon." Understanding the Russian space jargon was crucial, said Culbertson, "because you’re not dealing just with the Russian language versus the English language. . .. It’s like when you first come to NASA. I mean, how many of us understood the first lecture we sat through at NASA? It was like a totally new language."

Financial costs also factored into the differences in training techniques. The American space program was much better funded than the Russian space program at the time of Shuttle-Mir, and it could better afford the expensive simulators.

Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City: Astronaut Jerry Linenger sits at a table next to a Russian Space Agency trainer during a Mir-23 meeting High angle view of Building 9A Training Facilities But, a big reason for the differences in training was the basic differences in the missions that the two space programs were required to carry out. The Americans typically trained for two-week-long Space Shuttle missions on which everything had to go right the first time. Also, NASA gave its Shuttle crews more operational responsibility than the Russian Space Agency gave its Mir crews. Therefore, almost every activity on a Shuttle mission was rehearsed, as exactly as possible, on the ground. The Russians, on the other hand, trained their Mir crews for the long haul. Mission Control-Moscow may have controlled many of Mir’s orbital adjustments, but cosmonauts had to be well-trained in the systems and in maintaining the systems because—unlike on the Space Shuttle—malfunctioning equipment could not be brought down to be fixed on the ground.

Foale undergoing training in Russia for the NASA/MIR Station Configuration. Astronauts David Wolf and Wendy Lawrence light flares to attract rescuers to a simulated emergency landing site during Arctic survival training in Siberia, Russia Also, sometimes activities such as spacewalks became necessary after a Mir crew was in orbit. For those, the cosmonauts had to do their training onboard Mir.

Another training method the Russians employed was that of putting cosmonauts through weeks-long sessions in an isolation chamber to experience psychological, social, and culture deprivation. No NASA Mir astronaut took part in this isolation training, but NASA later incorporated this training method for its International Space Station crew candidates.

In sum, having to learn two systems—the Space Shuttle’s and the Mir’s—practically doubled the Mir astronauts’ required knowledge base. Having to train in different countries, time zones, languages, and cultures made the training aspect of the Shuttle-Mir Program one of the most difficult jobs NASA has ever attempted. As NASA-5 Mir astronaut Mike Foale said, "Flights are hard; but, believe it or not, the training is harder."

Making this "hard" but effective training possible were crew training working group co-chairs Aleksandr P. Aleksandrov, Charlie Brown, Yuri N. Glaskov, Yuri Kargopolov, and Donald Puddy. Tommy E. Capps was Johnson Space Center’s Training Manager.

Mir simulators at Star City During the Shuttle-Mir Program, nine NASA astronauts trained in Russia at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. Five Russian cosmonauts (Krikalev, Titov, Kondakova, Sharipov, and Ryumin) underwent training at Johnson Space Center for their Shuttle flights as part of American crews. (Titov flew twice.) Nine Shuttle crews took one week of training in Russia for joint activities with Russian crews on Mir. The Russian primary and backup crews of Mir-20 through Mir-25 underwent one week of training at Johnson Space Center.

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Training & Ops


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

Training in Orbit

An astronaut’s training for a Mir increment was so extensive, and the time to train was so limited, that NASA engineers and scientists developed a training system to be used onboard the space station.

The Crew On-orbit Support System (COSS) consisted of a laptop personal computer with a CD-ROM drive. Compact disks held training lessons, experiment instructions, and background information as well as psychological support materials such as greetings from family members. In many cases, ground team members videotaped the Mir astronauts’ last training sessions, so that later on orbit they could see themselves asking questions and operating the equipment. Shuttle-Mir Mission Scientist John Uri called the system "a perfect refresher."

An operations lead in Mission Control-Moscow might say to the Mir astronaut, "Okay, on Tuesday you’re going to do the experiment, but on Monday, we want you to watch the video (on the CD-ROM), so by the time you get to the experiment, you know what you’re doing."


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center

Yuri Gagarin statue at Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia NASA’s Mir astronauts trained for their Shuttle-Mir missions mainly at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center at Star City, about 30 kilometers north of Moscow.

Like NASA’s astronaut training center at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center offers high-tech training facilities. These include: integrated simulators for the Soyuz spacecraft and the Mir space station; a 5,000-cubic-meter water tank for spacewalking training; an IL-76MDK aircraft "flying laboratory" for simulating microgravity; and large (TsF-18) and small (TsF-7) centrifuges for simulating g-loads during launch.

The Center also conducts survival training for many possible landing situations, including mountains, woodlands, marshes, deserts, the Arctic, and open water. Russian cosmonauts have experienced several rough Soyuz landings. For example, cosmonauts Belyayev and Leonov landed on permafrost in 1965; and Lazarev, Zudov, and Rozhdestvensky splashed down in Lake Tengiz in 1976. All seven Shuttle-Mir astronauts returned to Earth onboard Space Shuttles, but an emergency evacuation of Mir in a Soyuz was always a possibility.

The Soviet decision to construct a cosmonaut training center was made on January 11, 1960. In 1968, it was named for Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space. On May 15, 1995, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government established the Russian State Scientific Research Center of Cosmonaut Training, also named after Yuri Gagarin. It was placed under the authorities of the Russian Ministry of Defense (Air Force) and the new Russian Space Agency. Beyond training Soviet and Russian cosmonauts, the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center had trained by April 1, 1996 25 international crews, including 24 astronauts from 17 countries.


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

Survival Training

Astronaut David Wolf undergoes Arctic survival training in Siberia NASA’s Mir astronauts underwent survival training in Russia to learn how to deal with emergency Soyuz capsule landings, both on land and in water.

Land survival training took place during winter in the forest near Star City. Crews practiced getting out of a capsule, still hot from reentry, and then keeping warm in subfreezing temperatures. Water survival training took place in the Black Sea. For a cold-water landing, the crews had to get out of their reentry suits before they put on four layers of arctic winter survival clothing, followed by an orange drysuit. For a warm-water landing, crewmembers stayed in their reentry suits, put on life jackets, and gathered all their survival gear.

According to NASA-5 Mir Astronaut Mike Foale, "This is all done with the hatch closed, in extremely close quarters, so a significant heat load builds up, added to by the continuous bobbing about in the waves. It takes one to two hours to get ready, then quickly open the hatch, and then jump out with the proper equipment.

"Jumping out is the key to the exercise. The capsule does not float level, and there is great danger of the first person rocking the capsule so that water comes in through the top and sinks the others. We were told to simply fall, and not [to] push off in any way with our legs."

Finally, after the launching of signal flares, the crew was picked up. Foale said, "I had five liters or more of water in my suit by this time." Reassuringly, "the training suits leak worse than real ones."

Bonnie Dunbar said the land survival training was perhaps "the most comfortable thing" that she had done in her training for Mir. That was because "I grew up in the Northwest. My dad was a World War II Marine, and he used to teach us survival. You know, the snow’s on the ground, you’re out with your horse. You’re checking the fence and it gets foggy and you lose your way. How do you survive? I learned survival from the time I was a kid. So, being out there in the woods in the snow and taking care of the fire actually was kind of fun." Russian trainers were always nearby for safety.


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

"Warm Fuzzies": Training Cosmonauts for the Space Shuttle

Titov at NBL (Lisa Reed trained cosmonaut) Lisa Reed, Training Lead at Johnson Space Center, was partly responsible for the training of Russian cosmonauts who were scheduled to fly on Space Shuttles. Later, Reed talked about working with Sergei Krikalev and Vladimir Titov, and dealing with the peculiarities of the American language.

"In order to get those guys trained by February [1994], so they could join the rest of the [STS-60] crew in the training flow . . . we instructors spent eight hours a day with them. For example, Monday on their schedule would be electrical power day. I would start in the morning with a briefing for two hours. I’d have a [Russian language] translator sitting with me, and Sergei and Vlodya [Titov] sitting across from me.

"It was difficult, because [we had] to pause with the translators. If it took an hour to teach it to an American, it took three hours" with the Russians "because we had to translate everything.

"I actually felt sorry for those guys, because they were getting a lot. It must have been like drinking from a fire hose for them because . . . every day, it was a different system. But, they rose to the task and did very well."

The trainers also ran into problems with slang. According to Reed, "We Americans like our slang. We don’t realize we use it as much as we do. So, [the Russians] would stop us.

I remember one day, I was teaching Sergei about the hydraulic system.

"I was explaining to him that . . . [the Shuttle crew] will start one [hydraulic system] prior to the deorbit burn . . . basically just to make everybody feel good that you have one running. The term that all the instructors here use [for this reassurance] is ‘warm fuzzy.’

"I remember [Krikalev] stopped, and he looked at me, and he goes, ‘What is this warm fuzzy?’

"And, I couldn’t explain it to him because I tried to separate the words. ‘Warm,’ to him, was like ‘near hot.’ Then, [there was] ‘fuzzy.’ We got off into talking about teddy bears and fur, and it just degraded from there.

"I don’t think that he ever quite understood what a ‘warm fuzzy’ was."


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

Life in Star City, Russia and "Space City," Texas

Aerial view of Star City, Russia featuring Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center Aerial view of Johnson Space Center, Houston, TexasNASA’s astronauts train at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. Established as the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1961 and renamed in 1973, the Johnson Space Center was built on former ranch and farm land just north of Clear Lake and near one of the largest petrochemical complexes in the world. The area has since become a suburban center, with shopping malls, office buildings, and housing developments. The climate is hot and humid for much of the year.

Russia’s cosmonauts live and train at a place called Star City, home to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. Star City lies in a forest 30 miles outside of Moscow. Star City has a northern continental climate with cold winters and brief, warm summers. Many Shuttle-Mir team members lived or stayed in Star City during the Phase 1 Program. Several of their family members joined them during their training in there.

In 1960, when Star City was established, housing consisted of two 5-story buildings. Now, thousands of people live and work at Star City. Many NASA Shuttle-Mir team members lived in the "Prophylactory," a three-floor dormitory the Soviets built for Americans during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and that has since been used for cosmonauts who have come back from a flight. NASA leases the second floor for housing and for the office of the Director of Operations-Russia. NASA also built several duplexes for housing.

"Star City really is a little tiny city," said astronaut William Readdy, who served as a Director of Operations. "It’s self-contained, and all the services are there. And, there are several generations [of Russians] there . . . the original cosmonauts and their trainers, and then . . . kids and grandkids and grandparents," all living in the self-contained town.

Mike Barratt, a NASA Flight Surgeon during Shuttle-Mir, said, "It’s a very historical place. . .. Star City has always been kind of . . . the ‘forbidden city’ or the ‘hidden city.’ It wasn’t on any maps. . .. It was a secret cosmonaut training base. Of course, everyone knew where it was, but it was considered a closed and secure city." Barratt said that, early in the program in 1994, Star City was a "little overwhelming" to the Americans who had just arrived. "There were only four or five of us English speakers and an awful lot of them—Russian speakers. I think we were all looking at each other with a certain amount of curiosity, maybe suspicion. But, that gave way relatively quickly. . .. It was a very short time later that it became a very comfortable place—a second home, really. . . . Star City is a very friendly place and a very beautiful place—peaceful, quiet, forests, trees, fresh air."

Early in the program, and largely due to the problems Russia faced after the fall of the Soviet Union, many aspects of life and work at Star City did not match those of Houston.

Communications and customs were big problems. Some foods were only available in the little store inside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. But, according to NASA-5 Mir Astronaut Mike Foale, "Things got steadily better. In fact, Russia has changed incredibly in terms of services. . . . Moscow is unrecognizable compared to the way it was" in 1996.

Often, work took up almost all of the Shuttle-Mir team members’ time. After his Mir flight, NASA-3 Mir Astronaut John Blaha recalled looking at albums of photos of Russia that his wife, Brenda, had put together. He remembered he told her, "Brenda, these are really great books, but that’s not what I saw of Russia." Blaha said that what he remembered was "a desk in a little room in my apartment, where I was studying my lesson material."

Blaha went on to describe a typical workday at Star City. "I would get up in the morning, sometimes at four-thirty . . . to study for my classes that day. Somewhere around [eight o’clock] . . . Brenda would walk into my little study room. She would say, ‘Your breakfast is ready.’ . . . I’d eat breakfast with her. . .. Then, I would go off to class. . .. There was a one-hour lunch break, [then] class from two to four [o’clock and] from four to six [o’clock]. It was like going to college. The instructors used a blackboard and a piece of chalk. At six o’clock, I would arrive home. I’d walk in, I’d relax a little bit, [then] I’d start studying until ten-thirty, 11 o’clock at night. Somewhere in between, Brenda would say, ‘John, dinner’s ready.’ And, we’d go and sit down, and we’d eat dinner together and talk."

Shuttle-Mir cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Sergei Krikalev—with their families—spent considerable time living and training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. They also had experiences adapting to a different culture. But, for them, early in the program the changes were in the other direction—from a situation of fewer material goods to more. In 1998, Titov looked back on the "difficult time" of the early ’90s in Russia. He said, "Moscow was not very comfortable, and when we arrived [in] Houston, here was another life, another style, and other stores. And, everything was for us like a little bit new."

Travis Brice, a key Shuttle-Mir Program Manager, recalled that, in late 1992, the Krikalevs and Titovs wanted to go to Tampa, Florida, to visit French astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien. Brice suggested driving.

"We can do that?" the Russians asked.

"Sure," Brice said, "You can do it. . . . You just get in your car and you go down to I-10 and turn right."

"We can do that?"


"We won’t get arrested?"

"No. Just go. Obey the speed limits . . . and you’ll probably be okay."

The Russians asked, "How about gasoline?"

"Plenty of gas stations along the way," Brice told them. "Just watch your tank and don’t get low. Keep your car full of gas and just go."


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

Operations - A Tale of Two Systems

Console operations at Mission Control Center - Houston. "Operations," in essence, means managing a spaceflight while it is taking place. Originally, the Space Shuttle and the Mir were not compatible vehicles because they were developed independently for different purposes. During Shuttle-Mir, the differences required many adaptations to allow the joint operation of the docked vehicles and to support an astronaut on a long-duration mission.

The joint missions required coordination between two control centers thousands of miles apart from each other, in different time zones, and with different native languages.

Communications links, processes, and procedures were developed to exchange information between control teams, coordinate decisions, and accommodate changes. An American, who served as a Russian Interface Officer (RIO) in Houston, and a Russian equivalent, the "PRP," in Moscow, acted as communicators between the NASA Flight Director at Mission Control Center-Houston and the Russian Flight Director at Mission Control Center-Moscow.

During docked operations, neither Mission Control Center was fully in charge of joint activities. The Mission Control Center-Moscow had authority for Mir. The Mission Control Center-Houston was responsible for the Space Shuttle. Similarly, the Shuttle commander was responsible for the Shuttle and its crew, and the Mir commander was responsible for the Mir and its crew.

"Joint Flight Rules," developed before each Shuttle-Mir mission, detailed both planned operations and practical responses to unusual situations. These rules minimized the need for quick decisions and ensured that each course of action had been reviewed and agreed to, both by NASA and the Russian Space Agency.

The differences between a typical Space Shuttle mission and a Mir expedition are noteworthy. For a typical Shuttle mission, Mission Control Center-Houston runs operations and directs practically every activity onboard the spacecraft. The short duration of a Shuttle mission requires that the crew’s time be closely scripted and monitored to get everything done. Further, with the aid of tracking satellites, Mission Control Center-Houston enjoys nearly constant contact with its Space Shuttles, so up-to-the-minute instructions can be radioed to the crew.

With much less voice communications than Houston has, Mission Control Center-Moscow typically uplinked a written flight plan to the Mir crew each day. This plan outlined a single day to five days in the future, and it gave a high degree of crew autonomy in the actual scheduling of activities. Furthermore, the long duration of a Mir expedition required more routine and normalcy for both its crews and its controllers. A "crew day" on Mir started at 8 a.m. Moscow time and extended to 11 p.m., allowing nine hours off for personal time and sleep. Usually, Mir crews worked five days per week and took two days off. During their days off, crewmembers were required only to do light housekeeping and perform their physical exercises, which took about two hours each day. Mission Control Center-Moscow personnel likewise had more regular hours. According to Flight Director Phil Engelauf, this gave people the feeling "that you get up in the morning and you have some time to yourself. You have a workday. Then you’re off in the evening, and you have your weekends to yourself." Of course, hardware failures and other contingencies frequently changed the routines and lengths of days worked, both for the crews onboard Mir and for the operations people on the ground.

During the course of Shuttle-Mir, NASA adapted its onboard astronaut operations—especially those of the science program—to be more flexible, like the Russians’. For example, according to the Shuttle-Mir Program Deputy Manager James Van Laak, "[We] might tell the crewmember, ‘Today we’d like you to accomplish the following three things.’ Then, if the astronaut began the first procedure and the hardware did not work well, he or she could postpone it and start a second project until the next communications pass came up. After discussing the situation with Mission Control, the astronaut might then go back to the second experiment because it might take Mission Control some time to figure out what to do next. Then, at the following communications pass, Mission Control would uplink a solution to the problem, and the astronaut might go back to the first experiment."

Flight Director Robert Castle said that, with Mir operations, "Things are a little slower-paced." He gave as an example an episode when an Elektron oxygen generator malfunctioned. "[The Americans] said, ‘Okay, you’re going to bring in a bunch of people to go work on this, right?’ [The Russians] said, ‘Well, we’re really not going to bring anybody in. We’ll start working on [the malfunction] Monday.’ And, this was a Friday afternoon. Then our own environmental people said, ‘With the current pressure of oxygen in the Mir, and the volume of the Mir, and the number of people onboard [the Mir], it will take 10 days to breathe the oxygen down.’ . . . Well, I can see why you might want to just take the weekend off, let people come in fresh, and work on it Monday, because you’ve still got a lot of time to work on it—whereas in the Shuttle Program, 10 days is an entire mission."

Except in rapidly evolving situations, controllers could assume that Mir would "be there in the morning." So, they could take the time needed to do things, in the best way, overall.


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

Operations Leads and Russian Interface Officers

Early on, NASA managers realized that a Flight Surgeon alone could not handle all the communications with the astronaut onboard Mir. So, they created the position of Operations Lead—or "Ops Lead"—to act both as a CAPCOM [capsule communicator] with the Mir astronaut and as the leader of a NASA operations team in Russia. The goal, according to Program Manager Frank Culbertson, was for the Mir astronaut, the Flight Surgeon, and the Ops Lead to become "a good, solid team and stick together through training, know the mission very well, and be able to execute it together."

Jeffery Cardenas, the Ops Lead for Norm Thagard’s Mir increment, later said that he typically arrived at Mission Control Center-Moscow about an hour before the first communications pass, or "com pass," with Mir. He talked to the Russian shift flight directors for that day, asked them what had happened onboard Mir overnight, and checked updates on the Mir systems, especially anything that would affect events for that day. He then read over the prepared script of what he was planning to say because he would have, at most, 10 minutes of communications’ time. When the com pass with Mir occurred, Cardenas would go over the script with Norm Thagard onboard Mir, "trying to give him a thumbnail sketch of what’s coming up on the day." For the rest of the day, Cardenas kept current on Thagard’s activities and prepared for com passes three or four days in the future.

Ops Leads during Shuttle-Mir included Cardenas, Christine Chiodo, Scott Gahring, William Gerstenmaier, Isaac "Cassi" Moore, Patricia "Patti" Moore, Anthony Sang, and Keith Zimmerman.

Other unique Mission Control positions created for the Shuttle-Mir Program were NASA’s Russian Interface Officer (RIO) at Mission Control Center-Houston and its Russian Space Agency equivalent—the PRP—at Mission Control Center-Moscow. According to Flight Director Phil Engelauf, the Russian Interface Officer served as the focal point for communications, or facilitator for communications, between the two control centers. The Russian Interface Officer managed fax traffic back and forth to the control centers as well as the voice conversations. Flight directors and specialists still communicated directly, but, as RIO Sally Davis said, "As far as marching down the road of executing the mission, you need somebody that’s going to keep each control center in sync, because you can go off [in] 40 directions with everybody [involved doing their own tasks]. You have that problem anyway with one flight control team. So, with two [control centers operating], you needed, I guess you’d call it, a ‘sync pulse’. . .[to keep] the control teams in line."


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

Director of Operations - Russia

 Penta Hotel, Russia In early 1994, the Shuttle-Mir Program created its Director of Operations-Russia position and named astronaut Ken Cameron as the first Director of Operations. Cameron accompanied astronauts Norm Thagard and Bonnie Dunbar to Russia to manage NASA’s operations at Star City and at the Russian control center at Kaliningrad.

The Director of Operations’ responsibilities comprised a huge task, including supervising NASA astronaut training at Star City; developing Mir rendezvous training materials for Shuttle crewmembers; coordinating training for scientific experimenters; and establishing and maintaining operations, including procedures to support joint flight operations between NASA and the Russian Space Agency. In practice, the Director of Operations personally handled many problems that arose in Star City. Astronauts who served in that position for about six months each included: Cameron, William Readdy, Ronald Sega, Michael Baker, Charles Precourt, Wendy Lawrence, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Brent Jett, and James Halsell.

William Readdy later talked about the early Director of Operations’ experiences. He said, "The objective was to prepare the ground and make sure that the two initial crewmembers that were over there, Norm Thagard and Bonnie Dunbar, got the support they needed—basically from soup to nuts." That meant everything "from everyday living accommodations all the way through all the technical and professional training, and all the travel and support and everything. Star City is not inside Moscow. Depending on the roads and the weather, it can be a couple of hours outside of Moscow, and so the logistics are daunting.

"But, the idea was to support them. Of course, that means also supporting the trainers and experimenters and all the other NASA folks that kind of go along with that."

As NASA’s organization built up in Russia, the Director of Operations’ duties evolved to become more managerial and less "Jack-of-all-trades."


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

Mission Control Center - Houston

 MCC-Houston group shotAt the moment the Shuttle’s two solid rocket boosters ignite, vehicle responsibility transfers from the Kennedy Space Center launch team to Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control Center, where a team of experienced flight controllers works in shifts to monitor and direct the operations of the Space Shuttle.

Flight Director (FLIGHT)
Has overall responsibility for the conduct of the mission.

Spacecraft Communicator (CAPCOM)
By tradition an astronaut; responsible for all voice contact with the flight crew.

Flight Activities Officer (FAO)
Responsible for procedures and crew timelines; provides expertise on flight documentation and checklists; prepares messages and maintains all teleprinter and/or Text and Graphics System traffic to the vehicle.

Integrated Communications Officer (INCO)
Responsible for all Orbiter data, voice, and video communications systems; monitors the telemetry link between the vehicle and the ground; oversees the uplink command and control processes.

Flight Dynamics Officer (FDO)
Responsible for monitoring vehicle performance during the powered flight phase and assessing abort modes; calculating orbital maneuvers and resulting trajectories; monitoring vehicle flight profile and energy levels during reentry.

Trajectory Officer (TRAJECTORY)
Aids the FDO during dynamic flight phases; responsible for maintaining the trajectory processors in Mission Control and for trajectory inputs made to the Mission Operations Computer.

Guidance, Navigation, & Control Systems Engineer (GNC)
Responsible for all inertial navigational systems hardware such as star trackers, radar altimeters, and the inertial measurement units; monitors radio navigation and digital autopilot hardware systems.

Guidance & Procedures Officer (GPO)
Responsible for the onboard navigation software and for maintaining the Orbiter’s navigation state, known as the state vector; monitors crew vehicle control during ascent, entry, or rendezvous.

Rendezvous Guidance & Procedures Officer (RENDEZVOUS)
Monitors onboard navigation of the Orbiter during rendezvous and proximity operations.

Environmental Engineer & Consumables Manager (EECOM)
Responsible for all life support systems, cabin pressure, thermal control, and supply and wastewater management; manages consumables such as oxygen and hydrogen.

Electrical Generation & Illumination Officer (EGIL)
Responsible for power management, fuel cell operation, vehicle lighting, and the master caution and warning system.

Payloads Officer (PAYLOADS)
Coordinates all payload activities; serves as principal interface with remote payload operations facilities.

Data Processing Systems Engineer (DPS)
Responsible for all onboard mass memory and data processing hardware; monitors primary and backup flight software systems; manages operating routines and multi-computer configurations.

Propulsion Engineer (PROP)
Manages the reaction control and orbital maneuvering thrusters during all phases of flight; monitors fuel usage and storage tank status; calculates optimal sequences for thruster firings.

Booster Systems Engineer (BOOSTER)
Monitors main engine and solid rocket booster performance during ascent phase.

Ground Controller (GC)
Coordinates operation of ground stations and other elements of worldwide space tracking and data network; responsible for Mission Control computer support and displays.

Maintenance, Mechanical, Arm, & Crew Systems (MMACS)
Monitors auxiliary power units and hydraulic systems; manages payload bay and vent door operations; handles in-flight maintenance planning; oversees Orbiter structure, tiles, blankets, etc.

Extravehicular Activities (EVA)
Monitors and coordinates spacewalks, including extravehicular activity suit and hardware performance.

Russian Interface Officer (RIO)
Acts as the communicator between the NASA Flight Director in the Mission Control Center in Houston and the Russian Flight Director at the Russian Mission Control Center in Kaliningrad; coordinates joint activities between the Shuttle and the Mir; implements joint decisions made by the two flight directors.

Payload Deployment & Retrieval Systems (PDRS)
Monitors and coordinates operation of the remote manipulator system.

Flight Surgeon (SURGEON)
Monitors health of flight crew; provides procedures and guidance on all health-related matters.

Public Affairs Officer (PAO)
Provides the media and public with explanations of mission events during all phases of flight.

Read more about NASA's Public Affairs Office


| Training | In Orbit | Gagarin | Survival | Warm Fuzzies | Life in Star City/Space City |
| Operations | Ops Leads and RIOs | DOR | MCC Houston | MCC Moscow |

Mission Control Center - Moscow

Photos of Russian Mission Control for Space Station Project Planning. MCC consoles and display screen with Soyuz spacecraft and orbit trajectory During Shuttle-Mir, the Russian Space Agency had three control rooms in a single complex in Kaliningrad, near Moscow. Mission Control Center-Moscow could process data from as many as ten spacecraft, although each control room was dedicated to a single program: one to Mir; one to Soyuz; and one to the now discontinued Russian space shuttle, Buran.

Flight control personnel were organized into teams, similar to NASA’s system at the Mission Control Center-Houston. The Flight Director provided policy guidance and communicated with the mission management team. The Flight Shift Director was responsible for real-time decisions, within a set of flight rules. The Mission Deputy Shift Manager was responsible for the control room’s consoles, computers, and peripherals. The Mission Deputy Shift Manager for Ground Control was responsible for communications. The Mission Deputy Shift Manager for Crew Training was similar to NASA’s "CAPCOM," or capsule communicator. Generally, this person had served as the Mir crew’s lead trainer.