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Teams - Tommy E. Capps, NASA/Training Manager

Tommy Capps was NASA's training manager for Phase 1. As part of his responsibilities, Capps was affiliated with the Phase 1 Crew Training and Exchange Working Group, a group of Americans and Russians who worked together to develop the requirements for crew functions, programs, schedules, and crew training.

As NASA's training manager, Capps oversaw the training of cosmonauts who flew on space shuttles, as well as the Shuttle-Mir and science training the Mir astronauts received. Although his tasks were performed primarily at the Johnson Space Center, Capps traveled to Russia numerous times during the Phase 1 time frame. Capps provides the following description of his job during his Oral History:

"[B]asically what I did is put in place a group of instructors that tailored the training to [the cosmonauts'] needs. We had had a lot of foreign nationals here before and trained them and they worked on the shuttle, but they always came to us with pretty good English skills. They didn't have the cultural differences that we had with the Russians.

"The unique thing for us was learning what the Russian culture was, trying to understand it. They, the same for us. So many things that are a given, [that are] very simple adjustments for a lot of other foreign nationals, [such as] the Japanese, the Europeans, and so forth, were difficult for the Russians. So there was a lot of time and effort in addition to the formal training.

"Our instructors helped them understand how to live here, how to work here, how to understand our approach. But basically we had to develop a training program that was very much tailored to them," said Capps.

Tommy Capps Oral History (PDF)

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Curator: Kim Dismukes
Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty