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Jeff Cardenas was NASA's Operations Lead (Ops Lead) in Russia for the Thagard Increment. He coordinated the communications between American-Mir astronaut Norm Thagard, NASA, and Russia from the Russian Mission Control Center (TsUP), located near Moscow.
In the Ops Lead position, Cardenas was in charge of Increment 1's (Thagard's) Mir Operations Support Team, a group of Americans that consisted of an engineer, an operations support tech, a payloads systems engineer, a mission science representative, a biomedical engineer, a flight surgeon, and a public affairs representative. In his Oral History, Cardenas described his tasks for a "typical day" while serving as the first Ops Lead:
"So you try to get there [TsUP] about an hour before the first comm pass, go down and talk to the shift flight directors for that day, see what's happened overnight -- any updates to any of the Mir systems, (or) anything that's impacted negatively -- the events for the day. Go over, kind of script what you're going to say [during the comm pass], because roughly the pass - you've got a morning pass and an evening pass that are dedicated with the American crew members -- so you have roughly about 10 minutes on each pass.
"In some cases you may have to share that time with the [flight] surgeon if there's something that he needs to talk about. Kind of script, go over the day's events with the crew member, any uplink messages that he may have been sent overnight that he should be looking for. Basically you're just trying to give him a thumbnail sketch of what's coming up on the day for that first pass.
"For the rest of the day, usually [you'll be] following what the crew member is doing that day and also preparing for three or four days down the line. For example, if there are new messages that need to go out to tell him how actually to do this experiment, or if it's something associated with the Mir system, those have to be already in process, in work, has to be coordinated, of course, on the Russian side, both from a science and engineering standpoint," Cardenas explained.
Cardenas also participated in the Mir Operations and Integration Working Group (MOIWG). This group coordinated the hardware integration, training, and operations activities of NASA hardware that flew on Russian vehicles. Cardenas worked within the MOIWG as the leader for the Operations and Training Integrated Product Team. In that role, he was responsible for all the mission preparation and execution aspects of implementing the Shuttle-Mir research program. Later, he also served as the co-chair the MOIWG.
Prior to his Shuttle-Mir duties, Cardenas was involved in standalone space shuttle missions, especially those that supported life sciences experiments, such as the Spacelab and International Microgravity Laboratory flights.
Jeff Cardenas Oral History (PDF)
U.S. Mir Residents | Astronauts | Cosmonauts | Teams | Oral Histories | Shuttle-Mir Stories
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty