She returned from space a hero and a teacher of patience, but Shannon
Lucid went up to Mir more as a student. Her aims were not so much to
endure space hardships as to do her science, to learn all she could,
and to get along with her crewmates. These goals paralleled several
of NASA’s own goals: to conduct scientific research; to learn how to
manage a space station; and to get along with international partners.
Much has been made of Lucid’s record-setting 188 days in orbit with
her last six weeks added because of an unexpected delay. But Lucid’s
mission was also an early test and a tentative triumph for NASA’s Shuttle-Mir
managers. It provided good reason for cautious optimism, as Lucid’s
six-month posting to the Russian space station began a continuous, two-and-a-half-year
American orbital presence.
Lucid’s own sense of presence and stick-to-it permanence are something
to consider when following the story of her NASA-2 increment. What kept
Lucid going—and doing so well—had several varied aspects.
First was Lucid’s innate patience, faith, and good humor. She likely
learned these qualities from her parents at a very young age. She also
worked hard herself at developing them as she grew. Lucid was born in
Shanghai, China, to Baptist missionary parents. When she was six weeks
old, her family became Japanese prisoners of war. After a year in a
internment camp, they were released in a prisoner exchange and returned
to the United States. After the war was over, they returned to China.
But, they had to leave again when the Communists took control.
Already introduced to living in different cultures, the well-traveled
youngster wanted to see and learn more. "I was interested in exploring,"
Lucid has said. But, when she was young she worried that "by the
time I grew up, the world would be explored, so what would be left for
me to do?" Then, she read about American rocket pioneer Robert
Goddard and she "started reading a little bit of science fiction,
and it just sort of clicked." Well, she thought, "You can
go explore the universe. That wouldn’t get used up before you grew up."
She became a scientist, and then an astronaut. By the time of her Mir
experience, Lucid had flown on four Shuttle missions, including the
one that released the Galileo spacecraft on its journey to Jupiter.
A second interesting aspect of Lucid’s mission was gender—including
its biological, psychological, and societal implications. Lucid had
been a member of NASA’s 1978 astronaut class—the first to include females.
These women distinguished themselves in space, and they helped make
NASA one of the more enlightened U.S. workplaces. Did being a woman
give Lucid a special ability to endure? Are women better candidates
for long-duration spaceflight? Did Lucid’s male Mir crewmates treat
her differently than they might have treated an American male, or than
they might have treated any other male? During Shuttle-Mir, a few Russian
space officials made comments concerning women’s "traditional"
roles, and, by and large, Russian society lags behind American society
in women’s rights. Although Lucid has said that she always felt "like
I was just being treated as an individual, as myself," both in
Russia during training and in orbit with her crewmates, her Mir experience
may point to the wisdom of selecting crews of mixed genders to staff
the International Space Station.
A third consideration is one of Lucid’s favorite Earthly pastimes:
reading. Not only did reading give Lucid a healthy method of psychological
escape, but her reading materials—Charles Dickens, for example—may have
given her insights into psychology and the human condition, which in
turn helped her endure and even enjoy her experience.
A fourth necessity, when considering Lucid’s Mir experience, is to
keep in mind a comment made by NASA-3 Mir Astronaut John Blaha, who
said that the seven NASA Mir astronauts were actually much alike; however,
their situations were different. Indeed, Lucid and those who followed
her had already had their ways paved for them by Norm Thagard. Shuttle-Mir
operations had much improved. To keep Lucid from repeating Thagard’s
cultural deprivation, NASA worked to keep her in contact with family,
friends, and events on Earth. This included sending up books and tapes,
as well as arranging weekly radio links and biweekly video contacts
with her family.
Lucid’s crew turned out to be particularly harmonious. The Russian media
had affectionately dubbed her crewmates "the two Yuris." About
her crewmates, Mir-21 Commander Yuri Onufriyenko and Flight Engineer
Yury Usachev, Lucid said, "They’re both very, very nice people
and I’ve enjoyed working with them very, very much. They have different
personalities. . . . I think the personalities mesh quite well together.
Yuri the commander tends to be a little more quiet, and Yury the [flight]
engineer always has something to say. And so that works out real well."
Still further, Lucid’s flight did not have any especially dangerous
and frightening events. Certainly, there were problems and inconveniences,
and plenty of Mir housekeeping to keep up with. But, Lucid’s day-to-day
experiences were not as stressful as some that occurred on other NASA
Regardless, Lucid’s mission was extremely difficult to undertake and
complete. She spent by far the most time of any American onboard Mir—with
six weeks of her mission being thrust upon her unexpectedly. Already
high in orbit, she rose to the occasion.
Her residency began on Saturday evening, March 23, 1996, when Atlantis
and the STS-76 crew delivered Lucid to Mir to begin the increment known
as NASA-2. She said later, "It was just pretty neat to look out
the window and see Mir, and know that [it] was going to be your home.
. . . It was great to see Yuri and Yury. They’d been up there a month
before I got there. They acted very happy to see me. I believe that
they really were. So, as soon as the hatch opened, I moved over and
became part of the Mir-21 crew."
While Atlantis was docked to Mir, the crews transferred supplies
and equipment, and astronauts Rich Clifford and Linda Godwin conducted
a six-hour spacewalk to install MEEP (Mir Environmental Effects Payload)
exposure panels on the Mir docking module. Soon after arriving, Lucid
had to put to rest a minor controversy in the media that had been started
by a comment of a Russian space official. General Yuri Glaskov, Deputy
Commander of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center at Star City, had
earlier hinted that the two male cosmonauts would welcome Lucid "because
we know that women love to clean." He also said, "The simple
presence of a lady onboard the Mir station helps . . . because [our
crewmembers] simply pay more attention to the way they behave, they
act, they speak, and so on.’"
Lucid kindly responded to this in a news conference from orbit. "That
kind of thinking doesn’t bother me. We all work together to keep the
place pretty tidy." Commander Onufriyenko said that all three crewmates
would share in Mir housekeeping and that Lucid would improve the "cultural
level" onboard the station.
Control-Moscow coordinated the Mir crew’s activities, laying out the
crew’s work schedule in the form of a "cyclogram"—comparable
to a Shuttle Flight Plan. The cyclogram was prepared four days ahead
of schedule, but it was modified by both Mission Control-Moscow and
the crew via radiograms and separate messages.
A group of scheduling experts from NASA served as consultants to the
Russian control team and was on duty in Mission Control-Moscow throughout
the crew’s workday. The workday typically began with wake-up around
8 a.m. Moscow time and ended at about 11 p.m. This translated in Houston
to midnight to 3 p.m. Central Daylight Time and often caused difficulty
for NASA people in both Moscow and Houston to comfortably schedule their
A week into Lucid’s residency, the Mir-21 crew had settled into an
on-orbit routine of experiment work, including material and life sciences
research and Earth observations. The crew focused early on the Optizon
Liquid Phase Sintering Experiment, the first American experiment designed
to be conducted in the Russian furnace onboard Mir. The Optizon furnace
processed metals at high temperatures for future study on the ground,
with hopes to improve industrial technologies such as cutting tools.
Lucid also worked to monitor long-term protein crystal growth experiments,
and preserved samples for a quail egg experiment that studied embryonic
development at various stages in microgravity.
Lucid and her crewmates ended the week of April 12 by observing Russia’s
Cosmonautics Day. They celebrated the 35th anniversary of the first
human in space—Yuri Gagarin in 1961—and the 15th anniversary of the
first U.S. Space Shuttle launch—Columbia in 1981. The cosmonauts talked
with family and friends on a two-way video link, and the crew took part
in press conferences with both the Russian and American media. Questions
during the Russian press conference ranged from where they slept to
what language they spoke on the station. The latter question elicited
a joking response from Usachev, who said "mainly Russian, but we
try to learn more English words so Shannon won’t forget her English."
Lucid also said that Russian space food was "pretty good"—with
beef stew being her favorite—but she really missed M&M® candies.
Questions about food and democracy came during another radio hookup
with high school students at the Ulyanovsk school, about 200 miles outside
of Moscow. The students asked Lucid what beverage she liked on Mir.
She answered, "Cherry," echoing the fondness that other American
Mir astronauts had for the Russian fruit drinks. The students also asked
Usachev and Onufriyenko whom they planned to vote for in the June presidential
election. The election pitted Boris Yeltsin against his Communist Party
opponent Gennady Zyuganov, and there was concern that Zyuganov did not
support Russian-American cooperation. The two cosmonauts diplomatically
told the students that they planned to vote absentee, but they had not
yet decided on their candidates. Interestingly, the students asking
this question about Russia’s new democracy were calling from the boyhood
school of the first Soviet dictator, Vladimir Lenin. Indeed, Lenin’s
original family name was Ulyanovsk.
The week of April 19 was spent conducting science experiments, documenting
Earth observation sites, performing small-scale maintenance procedures,
and searching—without success—for a small, troublesome leak in one of
the thermal cooling loops in Mir’s core module (Base Block). Similar
leaks would grow into major problems for future Mir crews.
crew began preparations for the arrival of the Priroda science module,
which would complete Mir’s configuration. The launch was supposed to
have taken place six weeks earlier on March 10 so that Priroda would
be ready for Lucid when she arrived. However, the module had been delayed
twice—once because of its late delivery from the Khrunichev factory,
and once because a commercial launch took priority. Ironically, not
only was Russia practicing democracy but it was embracing capitalism.
The crew continued work with the Optizon experiment, and they kept
repositioning the space acceleration measurement system to measure the
slightest movements of the Mir station. These measurements would help
experimenters on Earth explain any changes noticed in their data after
the mission. The crew also kept taking periodic radiation measurements
by repositioning a dosimeter around the station. They took blood samples,
and they were able to fix a body mass measuring device used to record
any changes in crewmembers’ body masses due to microgravity.
On the radio, Lucid’s Mir-21 crew talked with Russian cosmonauts Gennadi Manakov and Pavel Vinogradov, and French cosmonaut Claudie Andre-Deshays,
who were the designated Mir-22 crew scheduled to launch to the station
in July. They also discussed training with the designated Mir-24 crewmembers
Valeri Korzun and Alexander Kaleri. Unknown to anyone at the time, Korzun
and Kaleri would later take Manakov’s and Vinogradov’s places on Mir-22
because of a last-moment heart problem for Manakov.
On April 23, 1996—one month into Lucid’s mission—the Priroda module
launched aboard a Proton rocket and took a rapid course to Mir to save
battery power. One of its two battery systems dropped "off line"
because of overheating, and it was later learned that the malfunction
had caused a fire. On April 26, a flawless automated docking occurred.
However, because of potential dangers due to the malfunction, Lucid
was instructed to stay in the Soyuz escape capsule during the docking.
The next day, the cosmonauts used the Lyappa robot arm to move Priroda
to its permanent berthing port, opposite the Kristall module. With Priroda’s
addition, Mir was now complete. It was bigger, newer, and more capable,
and it carried five major U.S. science facilities, weighing about a
ton, with additional Earth observation equipment mounted on the outside.
Furthermore, in the words of Shuttle-Mir scientist Tom Sullivan, "One
of the more mundane things about a space station is that there is never
enough closet space. Priroda does bring a great deal of additional stowage
volume for science hardware that will be brought up on future Shuttle
During the week of the Priroda docking, Lucid conducted an inventory
of all U.S. hardware onboard Mir. The crew completed the Optizon Liquid
Phase Sintering Experiment and proceeded with the protein crystal growth
experiments. They also kept working with the space acceleration measurement
system, recording the slightest movements of the space station.
In early May, the Mir-21 crew worked to prepare the new Priroda module.
This included cleaning up contamination due to the fire and wrapping
in plastic the 168 big batteries that had powered Priroda while on its
way to Mir. This activity, expected to take six days, was accomplished
by the crew in less than two days. They also connected Priroda to the
Mir’s power system and began troubleshooting a Priroda power system
problem detected during the rendezvous.
In a letter to Earth, Lucid described the crew’s work in Priroda. "After
a lot of work, the batteries on the floor were unbolted and I thought
the job was complete. Then, Yuri opened a panel that revealed more rows
of batteries to be unbolted. Another opened panel revealed yet more
batteries; there were batteries without end!!! And, each battery had
to be unbolted, plastic caps had to be put on the four ‘feet’ and on
the connectors, and then each battery had to be bagged and tightly tied.
Talk about a lot of work!!!! To even reach the batteries, some of the
equipment had to be unbolted and the supporting metal framework taken
"So there the three of us were, floating in Priroda surrounded
by floating batteries, bagged batteries, equipment, and scrap metal.
At times I thought that there was enough scrap metal floating there
to build station Alpha!!! Periodically, free-floating metal pieces would
impact each other, creating clear metallic tones like cathedral bells
in the module and we joked with each other about the ‘cosmic music’
that we were hearing. We devised an assembly line to clean up the mess
and got so efficient that we finished the task in one-sixth of the time
that the ground expected and earned ourselves a holiday."
As part of her Earth observations work, Lucid took photographs of the
massive wildfires burning out of control in Mongolia. Lucid reported
that she had not seen such large fires from space during any of her
previous four Space Shuttle flights.
On May 7, 1996, the unmanned Progress docked automatically with Mir
on the first attempt. The crew got busy unloading food, supplies, and
equipment, and they "made some good inroads" into their fresh
supply of candy. The Progress arrival helped the crew in preparing the
Priroda module for the startup of science activities. These activities
had been slowed, partly because of all the packing materials that came
out of Priroda, because until Progress arrived, there was no place to
temporarily store the trash.
The crewmembers also continued troubleshooting the Priroda power system.
They replaced three nickel-cadmium batteries, which seemed to fix the
problem. Lucid prepared and successfully tested the Mir interface payload
She also conducted blood analysis using the portable clinical blood
analyzer. And, she reviewed experiment procedures and her pre-mission
training using a new audio-video compact disk system called the crew
on-orbit support system.
On May 9, Lucid made a telephone call to her parents in Oklahoma in
honor of her mother, who was celebrating her 81st birthday. The next
day, Lucid "saw" and spoke to her family in Houston through
a two-way video conference in advance of Mother’s Day.
By mid-May, the Mir-21 crew was gearing up for spacewalks by Onufriyenko
and Usachev. In the new Priroda, Lucid set up the Biotechnology System,
designed to support long-duration cell culture experiments in microgravity.
The Mir crew also prepared two Canadian experiments: the microgravity
isolation mount and the Queen’s University Experiment in Liquid Diffusion
(QUELD). Although bad nickel-cadmium batteries had been replaced the
previous week, another power controller on Priroda had failed. As a
result, flight controllers at Mission Control-Moscow would now monitor
and control battery charging from the ground. The crew continued to
search for the source of the coolant leak.
On May 20 and 24, with Lucid assisting from inside Mir, Onufriyenko
and Usachev conducted two spacewalks lasting five-and-one-half hours
each. They removed the Mir cooperative solar array from its stowed position
on the exterior of the docking module at the base of Kristall. They
used the Strela boom to reach and move the array to the Kvant module.
They also deployed an aluminum and nylon pup-up model of a Pepsi Cola®
can, which they then filmed against the backdrop of Earth. The soft
drink company paid for the procedure and planned to use the film in
a television commercial. However, the commercial never aired—reportedly
because Pepsi® later changed the design of the can.
NASA science activities continued even while the crew prepared for
and conducted the spacewalks. Lucid worked inside Priroda to complete
verification of the microgravity isolation mount facility and to check
out the microgravity glovebox. Using magnetic levitation, the microgravity
isolation mount could isolate experiments from vibrations and other
disturbances, and the glovebox would be used for many microgravity experiments.
Lucid also performed several life sciences experiments, including studying
changes to the human immune system in space. Lucid continued her Earth
observation activities and photographed the eruption of the Montserrat
volcano in the Caribbean.
at night on May 30, Onufriyenko and Usachev conducted another extravehicular
activity of four hours, 20 minutes, to install the modular optoelectrical
multispectral scanner outside Priroda. The scanner, which flew on Shuttle
missions STS-7 and STS-41B, would be used to study the Earth’s atmosphere
and environment. From inside Mir, Lucid sent commands to power up the
system once the spacewalkers finished installing the hardware. The two
spacewalkers also installed a new handrail on the Kvant-2 module to
facilitate moving around outside the station during future extravehicular
As Lucid passed through the halfway point in her mission, she told
reporters during a space-to-ground news conference, "I couldn’t
ask for anything more out of a flight than what I’ve gotten out of this
flight so far. If the second half is as good . . . all I can say is
you just can’t beat it."
About her relationship with her two crewmates, she said, "I think
maybe we laugh a little more together now than we did at the very beginning
because we’re more comfortable with each other and we understand each
Although the whole world seemed interested in her, and although she
was zipping around the entire planet every 90 minutes, Lucid’s personal
and professional world had shrunk. Later, she would remark, "There
I was on Mir, and on a daily basis I talked with the American support
group in [the] Russian control center . . . and most days it was twice
a day. I talked with Bill Gerstenmeier, who was in charge of the science
experiments . . . and Gaylen Johnson, the Flight Surgeon who also worked
with Bill. So, a lot of times it was just the three of us, and the world
seemed to shrink down to that."
Onboard Mir, a data card failed within the Mir interface to the payload
systems computer. A new card would be delivered on a Progress vehicle
in July, but that card would not work either and Lucid would have to
record all the data onboard.
On June 6, Onufriyenko and Usachev conducted a spacewalk of three hours,
34 minutes. They replaced cassettes in the Swiss/Russian Komza experiment
and installed the Particle Impact Experiment, the Mir Sample Return
Experiment, and the SKK-11 cassette, which exposed construction materials
to space conditions.
During the week of June 14, Lucid completed the Humoral Immunity Experiment,
which measured the effects of spaceflight on the human immune system.
Previous investigations had suggested that perhaps the human immune
system is suppressed during long-duration space missions. For this experiment,
Lucid injected herself with an immune system stimulant.
She then collected blood and saliva samples that would be compared
to samples taken before and after her stay on Mir to measure changes
in her body’s response to the stimulant. Results later indicated that
there was no immune system suppression. Also, Lucid performed an experiment
designed to measure the forces generated as a crewmember pushes off
the surfaces of the spacecraft to move about.
Onufriyenko and Usachev performed the sixth in their series of spacewalks,
installing a truss structure called Rapana to the Kvant-1 module. Rapana
took the place of a similar structure named Strela as a mounting point
for future experiments. Strela could now be used better as a spacewalker’s
moveable "ladder." Onufriyenko and Usachev also manually deployed
the saddle-shaped traverse synthetic aperture radar antenna on Priroda.
The large antenna had failed to open fully after receiving commands
from inside Mir.
news came up to Mir on June 21, foreshadowing the announcement that
Lucid would have a longer-than-planned spaceflight. Russia’s news agency
Interfax reported that Yuri Onufriyenko and Yury Usachev would be on
Mir until August 30. Yuri Koptev, the Director General of the Russian
Space Agency, was quoted as saying that there wasn’t enough money to
build the Soyuz booster rockets necessary for ferrying cosmonauts to
and from the Mir. At this moment, 90 days into her stay onboard Mir,
however Lucid’s future remained according to plan. She was slated to
return to Earth as scheduled on a U.S. Space Shuttle in early August.
The Mir crew continued with their scientific duties, including running
the Canadian Queen’s University Experiment in Liquid Diffusion and sampling
the air in Mir with the solid-sorbent air sampler and the grab sample
container. The solidsorbent air sampler was designed to sample air quality
over 24 hours; the grab sample container took quick, snapshot-type readings
of air quality.
As July passed, the other shoe dropped for the Mir-21 crew. Lucid would
also remain on Mir. And, she would stay for an unknown period—at least
until STS-79 could be cleared for launch. NASA engineers at Kennedy
Space Center had observed unusual soot patterns in the joints of the
Shuttle solid rocket boosters used on STS-78. NASA Shuttle-Mir Program
Manager Frank Culbertson told his Russian counterpart Valery Ryumin
about the situation in an informal July 3 memo noting that "the
worst case . . . is a potentially serious problem for our joint schedule.
You should be aware of the situation." Compounding matters, a
very active Atlantic hurricane season was in progress. Hurricane Bertha
threatened the Florida spaceport, and the Atlantis Orbiter was
moved for protection back into the Vehicle Assembly Building. NASA engineers
decided to replace the possibly flawed solid rocket boosters.
July 12, NASA announced that Lucid’s mission to Mir would be extended
to mid-September. Culbertson had already contacted Lucid with the news,
who took the information in her stride. Three days later, while considering
the receding time horizon in front of her, Lucid sailed through Norm
Thagard’s 115-day record for the longest American time in orbit. In
press conferences that week, she told reporters, "The two things
I had planned on being home for were my son’s birthday and my daughter’s
birthday . . . but I told them we’d make it up to them when I do get
home." Her son Michael would turn 21 on August 22, and her daughter
Kawai would turn 28 on September 19. Lucid also said she would continue
to miss things "like going to the bookstore . . . potato chips
and junk food. And, . . . feeling wind and the Sun." On the other
hand, she said, "You know, that’s life. And, we’ll just go on and
I’ll continue to have an enjoyable time."
Lucid also recorded an address to be played as part of the opening
ceremonies at the XXVI Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. The Olympics
were about running marathons and breaking records, and Lucid was now
being seen as a star athlete in space.
She later joked that one of her first thoughts upon hearing of the
extension was "Oh, no, not another month-and-a-half of treadmill
running!" But, Lucid persevered. She persevered with her science,
too. Only one of her 28 scheduled experiments failed to yield results
because of equipment breakdown. In the Candle Flame in Microgravity
Glovebox Experiment, she had burned 51 candles to study the complicated
physiochemical process of combustion. The original plan was based on
a total of 60 candles, but Lucid would burn a total of 79 candles of
varying size, wick diameter, and length. Along with the candle flame
sessions, the crew collected other microgravity data with the enhanced
dynamic load sensors and space acceleration measurement system.
the week of July 19, the crew began assembling the Russian/Bulgarian
Svet facility in preparation for the Fundamental Biology Greenhouse
Plant Experiment. By studying the chemical, biochemical, and structural
changes in plant tissues, researchers hoped to understand how processes
such as photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, stomatal conductance,
and water use are affected by microgravity. Plants could eventually
be a major contributor to spaceflight life support systems because they
produce oxygen and food while eliminating carbon dioxide and excess
humidity from the environment. Although it had not been planned for
Lucid to perform this experiment, she was able to do so, demonstrating
how well the on-orbit training of astronauts can work.
During the next few weeks, until the arrival of the Mir-22 crew and
French cosmonaut Claudie Andre-Deshays, the Mir-21 crew continued with
a full scientific program, including Earth observations and studies
of radiation, tissue growth, and neuromuscular activity. They finished
fabricating the Svet greenhouse and planted the first wheat seeds, after
using an extension power cord to plug the greenhouse into a steadier
power supply. They also continued troubleshooting the biotechnology
system to ensure its readiness for the next Mir mission.
Progress-232 launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 31 and docked
with Mir on August 2. The resupply vehicle brought more than two tons
of supplies for the crew, including fresh food, oxygen, and experiment
hardware for the upcoming French Mir mission. Charlie Stegemoeller,
Shuttle-Mir Research Implementation Manager, talked about the process
of getting extra supplies to Mir for Lucid’s extended stay. He said,
"The Russians are used to taking care of the crew at the last minute.
So, they understood what we were trying to achieve by getting additional
items up to Shannon. It was just a question of what could we send, and
what would she want to have. So, we had a conversation with the crew,
and we gathered items together from the family and the Flight Surgeons,
and we passed those on to Moscow." Books were already taken care
of in the family packages that were ready to go on the Progress, but
Stegemoeller said that Lucid had commented that "they didn’t have
enough sweets on orbit or salty items, so we packed up a good grocery
bag full of stuff . . . items that they don’t normally get because there’s
no snack vending machine around the corner."
The crew busied themselves unloading and stowing the food and equipment.
In early August, they continued troubleshooting the Elektron oxygen-generating
system. For three days, the crew turned off the gyrodyne system, which
provided control of the Mir, to allow the cosmonauts time to refurbish
the system. Mir maintained its attitude using thruster firings.
August 16, Soyuz TM-24 launched from Baikonur with the Mir-22 crew of
Valeri Korzun, Alexander Kaleri, and French cosmonaut Claudie Andre-Deshays.
On August 19—Lucid’s 150th day in orbit—the Soyuz TM-24 spacecraft docked
with Mir. Mir would be home to six cosmonauts and researchers from three
different countries—Russia, France, and the United States—until Onufriyenko,
Usachev, and Andre-Deshays returned to Earth. NASA’s Shuttle-Mir science
team coordinated with the French so that there was no impact to Lucid’s
Meanwhile, Lucid prepared for the end of her own stay and the arrival
of Atlantis by conducting a thorough inventory of experiment
supplies and equipment in the Spektr and Priroda modules of Mir for
her handover to John Blaha. Lucid had so far packed seven bags of completed
experiment samples, data, and equipment from her six months in space
to be transported aboard Atlantis back to scientists on Earth.
And, she reported that the dwarf wheat crop was about two inches tall,
three weeks after planting.
At the end of August, Lucid was nearing an all-time record for the
length of time a woman had spent in space on a single flight. She told
reporters, "My family would be surprised at the patience I’ve developed
in space. I hope I can bring some of that back with me."
On September 2, the Soyuz TM-23 undocked with Lucid’s Mir-21 crewmates
and Andre-Deshays. Lucid remained onboard the space station with the
Mir-22 crew of Korzun and Kaleri. On September 7, Lucid broke Elena
Kondakova’s 169-day record for longest stay in space by a woman. During
a NASA news conference at about this time, Yuri Glaskov, Deputy Commander
of Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, was asked what he thought
about Lucid’s taking the Russian record. Glaskov chuckled and said,
"I don’t think you’ve taken the record from us.
We have offered this record to you." He also said, "As far
as Dr. Shannon Lucid is concerned, I would like to extend my sincerest
thanks to the management of the program for making such a selection.
Because everybody’s fond of [her]. . . . Everybody loves her."
In a radio phone linkup, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin congratulated
Lucid and asked what lessons could be taken from her experience. Lucid
responded that on Shuttle missions, less crew involvement with experiments
was better because of the press of time. But, on long-duration flights,
it was important to increase the crewmembers’ involvement with experiments
and to improve and expand communications with the experiment’s principal
investigators on Earth.
That would help keep a scientist happy.
On September 16, Atlantis with the STS-79 crew launched from
Kennedy Space Center, bringing NASA-3 Mir Astronaut John Blaha to Mir.
Shannon Lucid returned to Earth on September 26, 1996, after completing
188 days in Earth orbit and a record-breaking duration for the U.S.
more about Shannon Lucid and NASA-2.