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Nikolai Budarin was a crew member on two Mir flights during the Shuttle-Mir Program. The first was Mir 19, where he was the flight engineer on the Russian crew that replaced Norm Thagard and his Mir-18 cosmonaut crewmates. He and Mir 19 Commander Anatoly Solovyev launched to the Russian space station Mir aboard a Space Shuttle on STS-71, marking the first time a Mir crew was ferried to the station on an American spacecraft. Additionally, Budarin commanded the Mir-25 mission, which lasted from January 29, 1998, until August 25, 1998. He and Mir-25 Flight Engineer Talgat Musabayev worked with two American astronauts on the space station, beginning with David Wolf. Wolf's mission began with the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 25, 1997, and ended when he returned to Earth on January 31, 1998. He was replaced by Andrew Thomas, whose mission started with the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on January 22, 1998, and came to a close when he returned to Earth on June 12, 1998.
Budarin received a mechanical engineering diploma from the S. Ordzhonikidze Moscow Aviation Institute in 1979. He then joined NPO Energia where he was involved in experimental investigations and the testing of space technology. In 1989, Budarin enrolled as a candidate test cosmonaut, and he completed his training in 1991. The pilot of STS-71, Charles Precourt, recalled in his Oral History the initial language problems between the two: "So we had a forty-five-minute drive to Galveston, and he didn't speak much English and I didn't speak much Russian, but we were able to, with a dictionary, talk about a few things on the way down there. You think about how the relationships started there and where they've evolved to today, it's pretty incredible, because we couldn't even talk to each other back then and now we do everything together. It's neat. But, yes, when you think back on how it really first started, you would tend to believe those that said, 'You'll never be able to make this work.' So the fact that we did is pretty neat.
NASA Biography: Nikolai Budarin
Nikolai Budarin video (15 sec.) MPEG (1.1M) (No Audio)
U.S. Mir Residents | Astronauts | Cosmonauts | Teams | Oral Histories | Shuttle-Mir Stories
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