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Teams - John B. Charles, NASA/Mir Mission Scientist

John Charles, a physiologist, served as NASA's Project Scientist for the human life sciences investigations of Phase 1, Increments 2-7.

Charles was also the mission scientist specifically assigned to the Foale and Linenger Increments, under the lead of Phase 1 Mission Scientist John Uri. As such, Charles was responsible for all science aspects of these missions, including human life sciences, microgravity science, biology, and space sciences.

Additionally, Charles was the cardiovascular discipline lead for the Thagard Increment, and during that flight he became the deputy project scientist for the Thagard science, assisting Peggy Whitson.

In his Oral History, Charles discussed Russian medical data standards: "The Russians have huge databases of people that flew in space and came back warm and pink. If that's what you're looking for, if you're looking for a success, the guy was alive after the flight, they're very good at that. They've got lots and lots of that data.

"But if you're looking at what happened to heart rates, what happened to blood pressures, what happened to certain ion concentrations with time in flight in response to certain provocation, they have almost none of that. In fact, one of the things that the Russian investigators told us is they were glad to see us come along, because they could finally start doing research in flight, because research was the lowest priority.

"So I think the data from the NASA-Mir Program is probably about as good as you're going to get from long-duration space flight on the Mir as anything that the Russians have published," he said.

Charles, a life-long space fan, tailored his education so he could work for NASA. To that end, he has conducted Air Force-funded studies that helped him to understand cardiovascular physiology in extreme environments. These studies also assisted him in learning how to manage large complicated research programs such as he would encounter on Phase 1. Charles holds a Ph.D. from Kentucky State University.

John Charles Oral History (PDF)

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Curator: Kim Dismukes
Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty