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Sally Davis was a Russian Interface Officer (RIO) for the Phase 1 Program, responsible for coordinating the communications between the Mission Control Center at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and the Russian Mission Control Center (TsUP) near Moscow. Davis served as the RIO for STS-71, STS-74, and STS-76.
The job of a RIO was established during the Phase 1 Program. Davis describes the duties of this role in her Oral History:
"The way I remember it, there were a lot of different versions of what the RIO was going to be, everything from assistant flight director to just somebody that's mimicking what everybody else tells them. In reality, the job wound up being something in between, trying to be as cognizant as you could of what was going on in the flight control team and figuring out which of that we should tell the Russians. Not to withhold information, but that it wasn't relevant to their decision-making processes. And then to do the reverse.
"They [Russians] had a person in their control center that was doing the same thing, which was aide to the flight director. The Russian acronym was PRP. So you'd have to take what he told you and figure out the relevance to the decisions that we were making in the control center and then pass those along to either the flight director or the appropriate person on the flight control team.
"It [the RIO position] was a way to simplify the interface between the two control teams. . . you need somebody that's going to keep each control center in sync, because you can go off 40 directions with everybody doing their same thing. You have that problem anyway with one flight control team.
"So with two [flight control teams], you needed, I guess you'd call it a sync pulse. Keep the control teams in line. That's kind of what the RIO and the PRP did."
Davis has also worked as a Rendezvous Guidance Procedures Officer and performed that function together with her RIO duties during STS-71, the first docking of the Space Shuttle Atlantis to the Russian Space Station Mir.
She has also held the position of flight design manager, which is the person who coordinates putting together the trajectory and the consumables required to do a flight, including launch window determination, and rendezvous and entry design. While she was a flight design manager, Davis made several trips to Russia with a team to look at the feasibility of docking the shuttle to the Mir.
During her RIO work, Davis was selected to become a flight director.
Sally Davis Oral History (PDF)
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty