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Originally, the space shuttle and Mir were not compatible vehicles, because they were developed independently for different purposes. During the Shuttle-Mir Program, the many differences required many operational solutions to allow joint operation of the docked vehicles.
Before each joint flight, all operations were written into Joint Agreements. During the shuttle flights and Mir increments, real-time operations for the Shuttle-Mir missions were conducted with the understanding that no single vehicle or Mission Control Center was in charge of the entire operation. MCC-Moscow controlled and had authority for the Mir, and MCC-Houston was responsible for the shuttle. Similarly, the shuttle commander was responsible for the shuttle and its crew, and the Mir commander was likewise responsible for his station and crew.
Joint Flight Rules were also developed before each mission. These rules spelled out both planned operations and responses to unusual situations. The rules minimized the need for real-time decisions, and ensured that all impacts of each course of action had been reviewed and agreed by both NASA and the Russian Space Agency.
Execution of the joint missions required coordination between two control centers thousands of miles away from each other, in different time zones, and with different native languages. Communications links, processes and procedures were developed to exchange information between the control teams, to coordinate decisions, and to accommodate changes. The development of strong working relationships between the two control teams required practice through simulations and the development of clear communications.
Shuttle-Mir operations are discussed at length in the Joint Programs Report, available in PDF format on this web site.
Joint Programs Report
Supplies to and from Mir
Director of Operations - Russia
Mission Control Center - Moscow
Mir Onboard Operations
NASA Mir Ground Support
Pool on Medical Differences
Pool on Medical Lessons of Shuttle-Mir
Billica on Flight Docs
Barratt on Medical Differences
Rendezvous and Docking
Risk and Safety
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty