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Jim Wetherbee commanded two missions to the Mir space station. His first flight, STS-63 on Discovery, featured the first rendezvous and fly-around of the orbiting outpost. These maneuvers verified flight techniques in preparation for STS-71, scheduled to be the inaugural Shuttle-Mir docking mission. On his second mission, STS-86, Wetherbee linked the Atlantis space shuttle with the Russian space station. This mission provided for the exchange of U.S.-Mir resident Mike Foale with David Wolf and featured a U.S.-Russian spacewalk.
Wetherbee became an astronaut in 1985. In addition to his Mir missions, Wetherbee commanded STS-52 and piloted STS-32. Prior to his career at NASA, Wetherbee served in the United States Navy as a naval aviator. Wetherbee earned a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
In his Oral History, Wetherbee said: "Ever since I was ten years old and wanted to be an astronaut, I've been watching these science fiction movies of these spaceships that come up next to a big, giant space station. [As I approached Mir,] all of those thoughts came back to me. So you're trying to get that stuff out of your mind because you have a job to do, a technical job to do. "But I kept thinking how beautiful the sight looked, how exciting it was to have two countries and you're helping to bring them closer together -- and yet you're trying to keep that out of your mind. But you can't because it's so awesome-looking, the view out the window. Mir looked so brilliant and white and bright, when you're not looking through the attenuating effects of the atmosphere. Really amazing."
NASA Biography: James Wetherbee
James Wetherbee Oral History (PDF)
James Wetherbee Video (17 sec.) MPEG 1.2M (No Audio)
U.S. Mir Residents | Astronauts | Cosmonauts | Teams | Oral Histories | Shuttle-Mir Stories
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty