the station’s cost to the U.S. while permitting expansion to basic operational capability much earlier than Freedom. This provides new opportunities to all the station partners by permitting early scientific research.
The program’s management was also redesigned. Johnson Space Center became lead center for the space station program, and Boeing became prime contractor. NASA and Boeing teams are housed together at JSC to increase efficiency through improved communications.
The first phase of the International Space Station Program, the Shuttle-Mir Program, kicked off in February 1994 with STS-60, when Sergei Krikalev became the first Russian astronaut to fly on a shuttle. The Shuttle-Mir Program is giving U.S. astronauts their first long-duration space experience since Skylab. The Shuttle-Mir Program also gives U.S. and Russian engineers and astronauts experience in working together. Space station hardware is being tested and improved. For example, difficulties with Mir’s cooling system led to modifications in the International Space Station design.
The Shuttle-Mir Program continued in February 1995, when Discovery rendezvoused with Mir during the STS-63 mission with cosmonaut Vladimir Titov aboard. In March 1995, U.S. astronaut Dr. Norman Thagard lifted off in the Russian Soyuz-TM 21 spacecraft with two Russian cosmonauts for a three-month stay on Mir. In June 1995, on the STS-71 mission, the Shuttle Atlantis docked with the Mir station for the first time and picked up Thagard and his colleagues, plus experiment samples and other items from the station, for return to Earth.
In November 1995, on mission STS-74, Atlantis delivered the Russian-built Docking Module to Mir - the
first time a shuttle added a module to a space station, a task which will be commonplace during assembly of the International Space Station.
On STS-76 in March 1996, Atlantis dropped off U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid for 6 months of scientific research on Mir, the first time a shuttle delivered a long- duration crew member to a space station. Astronauts Linda Godwin and Richard Clifford performed a spacewalk outside Mir, the first time American astronauts performed a spacewalk outside a space station since the Skylab missions.
In August 1996, on the STS-79 mission, Atlantis docked with Mir and exchanged Lucid for John Blaha. Crew exchange will also be commonplace during operations on the International Space Station. All shuttle missions to Mir deliver supplies, equipment, and water, and return to Earth experiment results and equipment no longer needed. Blaha returned to Earth aboard Atlantis on STS-81, which left behind Jerry Linenger. He returned to Earth on STS-84, which left behind Michael Foale.
Assembly of the International Space Station begins in June 1998 with launch of the FGB propulsion module. The first International Space Station crewWilliam Shepherd, Sergei Krikalev, and Yuri Gidzenkowill arrive in January 1999, starting a permanent human presence aboard the new station. The station’s first laboratory module, supplied by the U.S., will reach the International Space Station in May 1999. After the Lab is in place, assembly flights will be interspersed with flights dedicated to research. International Space Station operations are planned to continue until at least 2013.