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STS-76 launched on March 22, 1996, with crew member Shannon Lucid. Three days later, she joined Russian cosmonauts Yuri Onufriyenko and Yury Usachev aboard the Mir Space Station. She began her 188 days in space - an American all-time spaceflight record and a world record for a woman.
Lucid's increment on the Mir had been planned to last four-and-a-half months. NASA extended the time period six weeks, while engineers studied abnormal burn patterns on the solid-fuel boosters from a previous shuttle flight.
During her mission, Lucid's research included advanced technology, Earth sciences, fundamental biology, human life sciences, microgravity research, and space sciences. Specific experiments included: Environmental Radiation Measurements to ascertain ionizing radiation levels aboard Mir; Greenhouse-Integrated Plant Experiments to study effects of microgravity on plants, specifically dwarf wheat; and Assessment of Humoral Immune Function During Long-Duration Space Flight to gather data on effect of long-term spaceflight on the human immune system and involving collection of blood serum and saliva samples.
While Lucid was on Mir, the Russians launched Priroda, the final module. Attached to the transfer node, the Priroda laboratory is where Lucid conducted most of her science experiments. Only one of her 28 scheduled experiments failed to yield results, which was due to equipment breakdown. Also, Lucid performed a series of Earth observations, usually from the Kvant-2 module. Throughout her mission, she photographed areas of the Earth under varying seasonal and lighting conditions for oceanographers, geologists and climatologists.
The Spektr module served as Lucid's temporary home, where she slept and kept her personal belongings.
Although she had received only three months of intensive language study prior to traveling to Russia, Lucid and her Mir-21 crewmates spoke exclusively in Russian. The communication among the three was adventurous at times. She said, "We made a lot of jokes about it (using Russian instead of English). Yuri, as a joke, said, 'Well, we're developing a new language, a cosmic language.' And there was a fair amount of truth to that. A lot of times I would just take a English word and pronounce it like a Russian word, and put an ending on it, and that worked. You'd be surprised the number of times that worked."
Her experiences with the Shuttle-Mir Program helped to realize some of her childhood ambitions. In her Oral History, Lucid said: "I was interested in exploring, [but] then I thought by the time I grew up that the world would be explored, so what would be left for me to do when I grew up? Then I read about Robert Goddard and [his] rockets ... I started reading a little bit of science fiction, and it just sort of clicked. Well, [I thought,] you can go explore the universe and that wouldn't get used up before you grew up."
Lucid returned to Earth with the crew of STS-79 on the Space Shuttle Atlantis on September 26, 1996. She has participated in five spaceflights and logged 223 days in orbit.
The residency of an American astronaut aboard the Russian space station continued with NASA Astronaut John Blaha.
Profile: Shannon Lucid
Shannon Lucid Oral History (PDF)
Profile: Yuri Onufriyenko
Profile: Yury Usachev
Ops Lead William Gerstenmaier Oral History (PDF)
Lucid in Scientific American
Lucid on Communications
Lucid on "Family Time"
Lucid on Being an Astronaut
Lucid on Books on Mir
Lucid on ISS Science Needs
Lucid on Language
Lucid on Life on Mir
Lucid on Mir Clothing
Lucid on Physical Exercise
Lucid on Training in Russia
Lucid on Treatment of Women
Lucid Postflight Conference
Lucid letter "Pink socks..."
Lucid letter on EVAs
Lucid Mir Crew Conference
Mir's Spaceflight Records
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty