Two hundred and more miles above Earth’s surface, at the top of a technological
ladder humankind had climbed for millennia, the space station Mir set
history’s highest stage for the world’s two most powerful nations.
As the 20th century was nearing its end, the United States and Russia
were alike and unlike in many ways. They were alike in their mighty
military powers and near equals in the importance of their previous
explorations of space. And, for much of the century, they had been alike
in the amount of influence that their opposing ideologies had held over
"the hearts and minds"—and lives—of people all around the
world. The United States had championed free markets, free speech, and
free minds. The former Soviet Union had worked for planned economies
and planned lives.
On the other hand, the two nations were dramatically unalike in the
ways their fortunes had turned. The United States was embarking on a
robust economic expansion, partly fueled by the freedom of information
in a new, Internet world. One of its main exports, democracy, was ascendant
in much of the world. In contrast, Russia was emerging from the collapse
of the Soviet Union. The Russians themselves were now attempting democracy,
but their economy was in shambles and the future of their legendary
space program looked worse than uncertain.
It was within this context that the United States and Russia shared
the orbital stage of Mir. They wrote, rewrote, revised, and improvised
their desired roles for the fast-approaching 21st century—as the leading
actors in the exploration of space.
The Shuttle-Mir Program, also known as Phase 1 of the International
Space Station Program, combined spacecraft and statecraft and mirrored
the whole history of spaceflight. This joint effort provided the opportunity
for Americans and Russians to share expertise and knowledge while residing
in space as well as while working together on the Earth. But, the cooperation
that was Shuttle-Mir grew out of a fierce ideological and technological
competition between America and the old Soviet Union.
Although allied during World War II, the United States and the Soviet
Union quickly became competitors in many arenas after 1945. Militarily,
both began working on ways to deliver nuclear weapons to be used at
great distances. The Americans preferred crewed bombers. The Soviets
favored guided missiles and they quickly led the U.S. in rocket technology.
Both nations based their early rocket designs on Nazi Germany’s V-2
missile, and both incorporated German rocket scientists into their programs.
Both developed guided missiles; and, by 1955, the U.S. Air Force had
successfully launched its first Atlas guided missile.
But, on October 4, 1957, a Soviet R-7 rocket launched the Sputnik-1
satellite into Earth orbit. This "October Surprise" shocked
and frightened many Americans. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, the future
U.S. President, was at his ranch in Texas on that day. He later wrote,
"In the Open West you learn to live closely with the sky. It is
part of your life. But now, somehow, in some new way, the sky seemed
Less than a month after Sputnik-1, the Soviets launched Sputnik-2.
This satellite carried the first Earth creature into orbit, a dog named
Laika. The animal died during the mission, but Sputnik-2 demonstrated
that the Soviets could launch large payloads and that they might soon
put a human into space.
Americans also feared that the Soviets might be capable of mounting
a surprise attack against the United States. Several U.S. rocket failures
during this time increased apprehension. The Space Race had begun before
the United States could even get into orbit. However, America finally
succeeded when it launched its Explorer 1 satellite in January 1958.
Later that year, in large part to counter the Soviet threat in space,
the U.S. Congress established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
and NASA began operating on October 1, 1958.
During the early years of the Space Race, success was defined by highly
visible "firsts." Uncomfortable as it was for America, the
Soviet Union achieved nearly all of these firsts. Presidential candidate
John Kennedy wrote in 1960, "The first man-made satellite to orbit
the Earth was named Sputnik. The first living creature in space was
Laika. The first rocket to the Moon carried a Red flag. The first photograph
of the far side of the [Moon] was made with a Soviet camera. If a man
orbits Earth this year his name will be Ivan."
The man’s name, incidentally, was Yuri.
Yuri Gagarin’s one-orbit flight, on April 12, 1961, kicked the Space
Race into high gear. Indeed, it turned the Space Race into a race to
the Moon. On May 25, 1961—barely six weeks after Gagarin’s flight and
only 20 days after American Alan Shepard’s 15-minute suborbital flight
in a Mercury capsule—President Kennedy spoke to Congress on "Urgent
National Needs." Along with other defense spending, Kennedy called
for five Polaris nuclear submarines. Then he turned to the Space Race,
saying, "[If] we are to win the battle that is now going on around
the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in
space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all
… the impact of this adventure [is] on the minds of men everywhere,
who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should
announced that the United States should "commit itself to achieving
the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and
returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period
will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range
exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to
accomplish." Kennedy added that, "in a very real sense, it
will not be one man going to the Moon … it will be an entire nation.
For all of us must work to put him there." Thus, Project Apollo
was born, and the American nation embraced it. NASA was handed its greatest
mission, along with the money with which to accomplish it.
The Soviets never publicly stated their commitment to landing their
own cosmonauts on the Moon, but they spent billions on their own lunar
program. They built a lunar lander and the giant N-1 Moon rocket. Although
the United States had to recover from its tragic Apollo capsule fire,
which took the lives of three astronauts, the Soviet Union was unable
to keep up with the pace and the successes of the Apollo program. When
Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, Moscow
sent Washington its congratulations.
America eventually landed six Apollo spacecraft on the Moon, with the
last one launching on December 7, 1972. Perhaps understandably, after
the Moon prize had been won, Americans’ interest in space exploration
waned and Congress’ willingness to spend money on space diminished.
Although some have criticized Project Apollo for being an exercise in
political one-upmanship, Apollo’s engineering payoff was immense. Project
Apollo and its precursor, Gemini, pioneered many technologies and techniques
that would be crucial to the Shuttle-Mir Program. These included the
rendezvous of two spacecraft in orbit, the docking and undocking of
those two spacecraft, and the use of spacewalks to build and maintain
structures in orbit.
While competition was the rule in the early years of space exploration,
cooperation was always considered and, at times, attempted. In November
1959, NASA’s Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden met privately with
Soviet space scientists. They agreed that their countries should cooperate
more closely in space science, and Dryden made it clear that NASA was
ready to talk about issues of mutual interest. However, the Soviets
were not prepared to proceed; and the Soviets’ downing of an American
U-2 spyplane over the Ural Mountains damaged the case for cooperation.
In September 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for making
space a nonmilitarized zone, much as the Antarctic continent had been
declared earlier. President Kennedy in his 1961 inaugural address proclaimed,
"Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of
its terrors. Together let us explore the stars."
Soon after that, in his State of the Union speech, Kennedy invited
the Soviet Union and all nations "to join with us in developing
a weather prediction program, in a new communications satellite program
and in preparation for probing the distant planets of Mars and Venus,
probes which may someday unlock the deepest secrets of the universe."
Later in 1961, at a Vienna summit meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita
Khrushchev, Kennedy suggested that America and the Soviet Union "go
to the Moon together." Khrushchev determined that such cooperation
would not be practical, because any rocket boosters used would have
The remainder of 1961 saw heightened Cold War tensions, including the
Soviets’ building of the Berlin Wall. However, in spring 1962, following
John Glenn’s three-orbit spaceflight in a Mercury capsule, it was Khrushchev
who called for closer cooperation in space activities. Kennedy wrote
him a letter recommending cooperation in weather satellites, tracking
services, and other space matters. Khrushchev responded favorably, but
stated that as long as the Cold War situation remained, cooperation
in space would be limited.
The next year, the United States and the Soviet Union found more common
ground in space. In December, after much work by NASA’s Dryden and Soviet
Academician A. A. Blagonravov (and after being delayed by the Cuban
missile crisis), the two countries signed a bilateral space agreement
that increased cooperation in space. In 1963, President Mstislav Keldysh
of the Soviet Academy of Sciences intimated to a British astronomer
that the Soviets might have given up on their own manned lunar project.
Partly in response to this, President Kennedy made a speech at the United
Nations in which he raised the possibility of a "joint expedition
to the Moon." Surprisingly, the Soviet government and media ignored
In the United States, reaction was mixed. Congress tacked on to NASA’s
appropriations bill the words, "No part of any appropriation made
available to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by this
Act shall be used for expenses of participating in a manned lunar landing
to be carried out jointly by the United States and any other country
without consent of the Congress." The same language was used in
NASA’s funding bills for fiscal years 1964 to 1966. America would go
to the Moon alone.
But, America would not have space to itself. The United States and
the Soviet Union agreed on this by signing the 1967 Outer Space Treaty,
which proclaimed, "The exploration and use of outer space, including
the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit
and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree
of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of
the 1969 landing on the Moon of Apollo 11, there was not much left to
compete for in space. Although cooperation remained tied to politics,
the path toward Shuttle-Mir became easier.
That path actually began just before America landed on the Moon, in
early July 1969. At that time, NASA astronaut Frank Borman, who had
recently orbited the Moon with his Apollo 8 crewmates, James Lovell
and William Anders, undertook a nine-day goodwill tour of Soviet space
facilities as U.S. President Richard Nixon’s representative. Borman
suggested to Soviet space leaders that Americans and Soviets might work
together onboard a space laboratory in low Earth orbit. A few days after
Apollo 11 returned to Earth, NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine wrote
to Keldysh and suggested cooperative space ventures.
In March 1970, Nixon declared that international cooperation would
be an object of America’s post-Apollo space program, saying, "I
believe that both the adventures and the applications of space missions
should be shared…. Our progress will be faster and our accomplishments
will be greater if nations will join together in this effort."
In September, NASA Administrator Paine wrote to his Soviet colleagues
to propose that a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft dock with NASA’s planned Skylab
In October 1970, at Keldysh’s invitation, five NASA representatives
flew to Moscow for talks on providing compatibility to the rendezvous
and docking systems of manned spacecraft and space stations. The Soviet
delegation included among its members docking system engineer Vladimir
Syromiatnikov, who ultimately worked on every Soviet/Russian docking
system including the one for Shuttle-Mir. His U.S. counterpart, Caldwell
Johnson, brought pictures of NASA’s "neuter" docking system.
Working to ensure docking compatibility in future generations of spacecraft,
these two delegations established three "joint working groups."
The successful template of these working groups would continue through
the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, and into the Shuttle-Mir and the International
Space Station Programs.
The Nixon Administration remained interested in space cooperation.
In January 1971, a delegation led by NASA Acting Administrator George
M. Low traveled to Moscow for wide-ranging discussions. U.S. Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger had instructed Low to explore the possibility
of an early U.S.-Soviet docking mission. Upon his return, Low reported
to President Nixon that "apart from our formal negotiations, I
did have one private conversation with Keldysh (along lines discussed
earlier with Dr. Kissinger) … I explained to Keldysh that we believe
it technically possible to modify Apollo spacecraft and Soyuz modules
so as to permit them to dock in the 1973-74 period, several years before
entirely new systems like the Space Shuttle would become available."
Keldysh was warm to the idea. Nixon and Kissinger wanted an early international
space mission as a high-flying demonstration of their policy of détente
(easing of tensions) between the United States and the Soviet Union.
From NASA’s point of view, an early international docking mission made
programmatic sense. Nixon was scaling back and redirecting the Agency,
and no space missions were planned between the last Skylab visit in
1974 and the planned first Space Shuttle test flight in 1978 (which
actually occurred in 1981). An international docking mission would help
fill the gap.
An international mission would also replace competition with cooperation
while keeping politics—foreign relations—as an important reason to explore
space. After Apollo, spacecraft would remain statecraft, but they would
often be flying more than one nation’s flag.
1975, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project became the first international human
spaceflight. It epitomized the Nixon-Ford Admininstrations’ emphasis
on détente with Communist nations. It also had ambitious technological
goals, especially the compatibility of the U.S. and Soviet rendezvous
and docking systems.
On July 15, 1975, Soyuz-19 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in
the then-Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, carrying cosmonauts Aleksei
A. Leonov and Valeri N. Kubasov. Less than eight hours later, a Saturn
IB rocket carrying a modified Apollo capsule launched from Kennedy Space
Center in Florida—10,000 miles from Baikonur. Onboard the Apollo were
astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, Vance D. Brand, and Donald K. "Deke"
Slayton. At the Kennedy Space Center, the Soviet Ambassador to the United
States, Anatoly F. Dobrynin, told the firing-room team, "The best
of wishes to all of you, and, of course, to both our crews. My heart
is with you." NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher announced, "You’re
making history today. This is the first step on a long mission and a
first step on a long program with the Soviet Union."
Once in orbit, the U.S. crew flipped around the cone-shaped Apollo
capsule and mated it with a 10-foot-long docking module, which would
later attach directly to the Soyuz.
On July 17, 1975, the two spacecraft rendezvoused over South America
and docked over the Atlantic Ocean. Command Module Pilot Vance Brand
later recalled that the docking occurred as if in slow motion. "We
came together at a slow rate and we felt a little gentle bump when we
docked," he said. "We looked through an optical sight to line
it up. There was some relative movement between the spacecraft and then
it quickly stopped."
After three hours of tests and preparation, the hatches were opened
and spacecraft commanders Stafford and Leonov performed the ceremonial
handshake that would be repeated many times during the Shuttle-Mir Program.
"Glad to see you," Stafford said in Russian to Leonov. "Very,
very happy to see you," Leonov replied in English.
On Earth, U.S. President Gerald Ford and Soviet Communist Party General
Secretary Leonid Brezhnev expressed congratulations, and the two crews
exchanged flags and other commemorative items. Over the next three days,
the crews performed joint activities, such as sharing meals, carrying
out scientific experiments, and giving television viewers tours of the
joined spacecraft. On July 18, they closed the hatches; and the next
day, the Apollo and Soyuz undocked.
Brand said, "It was a positive experience from beginning to end.
It was the middle of the Cold War, and [the Soviets] probably saw us
as monsters and vice versa before we started training. We opened a crack
in the door regarding communication between the two superpowers. Apollo-Soyuz
was the first for this kind of cooperation."
Apollo-Soyuz proved to be enormously successful, both symbolically—in
those very tense times—and technically for the future. Figuratively,
where Apollo-Soyuz could be seen as an introductory handshake, Shuttle-Mir
would become a confirming embrace, albeit two decades later.
Looking back on his Apollo-Soyuz experience, Stafford said that, although
some Americans were worried about technology transfer to the Soviets,
the United States may have learned more than the Soviets did. "Russia
was such a closed society. The amount of wheat they produced in a year
was a state secret…. We saw the control center and the launch site,"
although Stafford had to in his words, "pry it open." But,
according to Stafford, "we learned more about where they were than
they learned about where we were." In Stafford’s opinion, "What
they could have learned from us was management," because their
management structures were so "vertically separated."
After Apollo-Soyuz, NASA officials began seriously discussing the possibility
of the Space Shuttle docking with the Soviets’ Salyut space station.
Much thought was also given to what was called "air-to-air extravehicular
activity capability;" that is, transferring astronauts between
the vehicles using spacesuits instead of directly docking the two spacecraft.
In August 1976, NASA’s Glynn S. Lunney, who had managed the Apollo-Soyuz
Test Project, suggested flying a cosmonaut onboard a Shuttle. In late
1976, NASA and Soviet officials agreed to a Shuttle-Soyuz docking, but
nothing was signed because of the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.
In May 1977, both sides agreed to renew the 1972 Space Cooperation Agreement
for a second five years. The Agreement called for the study of a Space
Shuttle docking with a Salyut space station in 1981 and for setting
up two working groups, one for science and one for operations.
However, the new U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his administration
were also worried about technology transferring to the Soviets and,
by late 1978, had discontinued all docking discussions. When the Soviet
Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, any chance for a Shuttle-Salyut
docking collapsed as the U.S. administration did what it could to isolate
the Soviet regime internationally, including boycotting the 1980 Olympics.
Throughout the 1980s, events served to buoy and then batter the prospects
of U.S.-Soviet space cooperation. For the first time after Apollo-Soyuz,
America returned to human spaceflight on April 12, 1981, when NASA astronauts
John Young and Robert Crippen launched aboard the first Space Shuttle,
Columbia. In December, Polish government authorities cracked down on
the democratic Solidarity movement. In the spring of 1982, President
Ronald Reagan allowed the Space Cooperation Agreement to expire; and
in January 1984 in his State of the Union speech, Reagan called on NASA
to build its own space station.
He echoed President Kennedy’s "Urgent National Needs" Moon
speech by saying he wanted the station built within a decade.
However, in June 1984, Reagan proposed "a joint simulated space
rescue mission" with the Soviets, and Congress and the media renewed
attention to space cooperation. Regardless, the Soviets did not respond.
Then, in March 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Moscow. There
began a great period of uncertainty and reform, which would lead ultimately
to the collapse of the Soviet government.
Tragedy struck the U.S. space program again in January 1986 with the
explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the deaths of its crew
of seven. The accident left the American public shocked and unsure about
the future of human spaceflight. NASA’s Shuttle fleet would remain grounded
for the next two years. Meanwhile, the Base Block of the Soviets’ new
space station Mir was being built.
In 1986, the first Mir crew activated the new space station. They then
transferred via a Soyuz capsule to the Salyut-7 station to collect equipment,
and returned to Mir before returning to Earth. Two years later, in 1988,
the Space Shuttle returned to flight with the launch of STS-26, Discovery.
The Soviets tried out their own Space Shuttle in November 1988, when
they launched the Buran orbiter. Buran flew successfully—without a crew.
However, it soon was scrapped, partly for economic reasons, and the
Soviets still had no reusable spacecraft with which to ferry crews and
The 1990s loomed full of uncertainty, but this would be the decade
that brought the two space powers together.
In April 1989, President George H. W. Bush had reestablished, by executive
order, the National Space Council, led by Vice President Dan Quayle.
Part of its job was to find a direction for America’s space initiatives
in a time when the nation would no longer be engaged in a technology
race with the Soviet Union. NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin worked
closely with Vice President Quayle and important Space Council members,
including Executive Secretary Mark Albrecht, Apollo-Soyuz Commander
General Thomas Stafford, and the Council’s Senior Director for Civil
Space Policy, George W. S. Abbey. The Council began to see several unique
opportunities for engaging the former Soviet Union in a space station
The Space Council saw a space station as a logical next step—back to
the Moon and on to Mars. They were interested in reducing the cost of
the space station. They also wanted to take advantage of the enormous
space assets that the Soviets fielded; for example, their unique heavy-lift
boosters and the trustworthy Soyuz crew return vehicle. The Soviets
also had an existing space station in their Mir, onboard which American
astronauts might gain valuable experience in long-duration spaceflight
even before an American station was launched.
Moreover, several on the Space Council, as well as others in the Bush
Administration, saw another reason to engage the post-Soviets in a cooperative
space venture: as a way to help hold the Russian nation together at
a time when the Russian economy was faltering and its society was reeling.
In the words of Brian Dailey, Albrecht's sucessor, "If we did not
do something in this time of social chaos … in Russia, … then there
would be potentially a hemorrhaging of technology … ‘away from Russia’
… to countries who may not have a more peaceful intention behind the
use of those technologies."
Bringing Russia into America’s future space plans would help get America
to Mars and preserve what President Bush was calling "a new world
order." George Abbey, with the help of Dailey and others, began
working on a plan that would partner the American Space Shuttle with
the Russian Mir program.
Events moved quickly. In May 1990, U.S. Vice President Quayle discussed
space cooperation with Soviet President Gorbachev. In 1991, the Soviet
Union collapsed. In June 1992, the U.S. and the new Russian Federation
issued a "Joint Statement on Cooperation in Space." It called
for Russian cosmonauts aboard Space Shuttles, U.S. astronauts onboard
Mir, and a Shuttle-Mir docking mission in 1994 or 1995. The agreement
also opened the door to U.S. commercial purchases of Russian space services.
In July 1992, at Quayle’s urging and Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s
concurrence, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin met with the Russian Space
Agency’s General Director Yuri Koptev in Russia to visit Russian space
facilities and to work toward implementation of a new space agreement.
Tom Stafford accompanied Goldin as his advisor. In August, NASA’s Bryan
O’Connor met in Moscow with the Russian Space Agency’s Boris Ostroumov
and with Valery Ryumin of RSC-Energia to discuss implementation of the
cooperative human spaceflight programs. In October, Goldin and Koptev
met again in Moscow to sign the "Implementing Agreement on Human
Space Flight Cooperation." This detailed plan included a cosmonaut
flight on Shuttle mission STS-60, an astronaut’s Soyuz flight and long-duration
stay onboard Mir, and a Shuttle-Mir docking that would include a Russian
Mir crew exchange and the pick up of the U.S. long-duration astronaut.
In September 1992, Johnson Space Center (JSC) Director Aaron Cohen
established a U.S.-Russian Programs Office to accommodate the evolving
relationship between NASA and the Russian space community. Donald Puddy
became Special Assistant for U.S.-Russian Programs, responsible for
coordinating "all JSC activities that support joint U.S. and Russian
It was at this point that what would become the Shuttle-Mir Program
got rolling, in all practicality, with the inclusion of a Russian cosmonaut
in the STS-60 Space Shuttle crew. Shuttle training for the cosmonaut
had to begin immediately. The Russians selected Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev,
who would become the "prime," and Vladimir Titov, who would
be backup and who would later fly in 1995 onboard STS-63. According
to Tommy E. Capps, who was responsible for spaceflight training, "We
had from November  to February  to get them up to speed
on the Shuttle." This meant, "Basic training for Shuttle.
Understanding what Shuttle was. Understanding a little bit about their
roles and responsibilities. So, it was a very difficult job for all
of us. We had a lot of initial contacts with the Russians on training
plans, trying to learn to communicate with each other, even though through
an interpreter it was [still] a different language [even] after we communicated."
Tommy Capps and others at Johnson Space Center worried how these two
non-English speakers would adjust to American society. Capps later said,
"We started trying to do things like take them out for driving
lessons. We were really apprehensive about them driving in Houston,
in all of our aggressive freeway traffic and so forth." But, a
few months later, Capps visited Russia. He later said, "After a
few hours in Moscow, I realized that we were totally silly for wasting
our time trying to teach these guys how to drive in Texas. If they could
survive Moscow traffic, then they had no problem whatsoever driving."
Capps didn’t mention that Krikalev was a champion Russian aerobatics
In April 1993, newly elected U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian
President Boris Yeltsin met at a summit in Vancouver, Canada, where
both sides agreed to an "enhanced" Shuttle-Mir Program. Late
in May, NASA and Russian representatives met to consider such an expansion.
Among other subjects, they agreed to consider two 3-month and four 6-month
U.S. flights aboard Mir through 1997, with astronauts delivered to the
station by Russian Soyuz-TMs and U.S. Space Shuttles; using the new
Russian Mir modules, Spektr and Priroda, for U.S. equipment; and using
joint spacewalks to extend Mir’s useful lifetime through the end of
In September 1993, U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin chaired the first meeting of the first U.S.-Russian
Joint Commission on Energy and Space (Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission).
The United States and Russia agreed to begin "Phase 1" of
International Space Station cooperation immediately with Shuttle-Mir
expanded to include up to two years of total U.S. time on Mir.
On November 1, 1993, the "Addendum to the Program Implementation
Plan" merged the previously planned U.S. space station Alpha with
Russia’s planned Mir-2, firmly establishing the International Space
Station and its three "phases." Phase 1 would be the Shuttle-Mir
Program. Phase 2 would be the construction of the International Space
Station. Phase 3 would be the station’s full operation.
In December 1993, the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission formally agreed
to expand Shuttle-Mir to include up to 10 Shuttle flights to Mir and
four or more long-duration stays for a total of 24 months by U.S. astronauts
on Mir. On December 16, 1993, NASA’s Daniel Goldin and the Russian Space
Agency’s Yuri Koptev signed the "Contract for Human Space Flight
Activities," and the Shuttle-Mir Program was ready to do real space
During the formative days of the Shuttle-Mir Program, NASA Associate
Administrator Mike Mott played an important role in defining what the
overall program would be like. Associate Administrator Arnauld Nicogossian
represented the interests of science. Besides the earlier-mentioned
Dan Goldin, George Abbey, Mark Albrecht, Brian Dailey, and Bryan O’Connor,
key NASA negotiators and players at this time included Guy Gardner,
the Deputy Associate Administrator for Russia, as well as new Johnson
Space Center Director Carolyn Huntoon and technical negotiator James
Nise, who would later take charge of contracts for the Shuttle-Mir Program.
William Shepherd, Robert Clark, and Lee Evey also contributed greatly.
Russian negotiators included the Russian Space Agency Chief Yuri Koptev,
Cosmonaut and Shuttle-Mir Project Manager Valery Ryumin, and Technical
Director Boris Ostroumov.
About negotiating with the Russians, James Nise later said, "The
Russians don’t delegate much stuff ‘downhill’; that is, to lower than
top-level managers. All the power [resided] in one person at the time.
Now, they will work stuff ‘down below,’ but it all gets signed at the
very top. So, it’s kind of difficult in that regard."
Of course, much was difficult in many regards; but on February 3, 1994,
NASA announced that astronauts Norman Thagard and Bonnie Dunbar would
train for missions on Mir. On the same day, Space Shuttle Discovery
(STS-60) launched with cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev onboard.
The U.S. and Russia, the world’s leading actors in the drama of space,
stepped onto the highest stage together again.
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