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Gary Johnson was the NASA Group Leader for the Safety Assurance Working Group. This working group was responsible for the evaluation of safety requirements of the Shuttle-Mir Program.
Johnson's expertise in working with the Russians began when he was a young electrical engineer with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program in the mid-1970s. These experiences prepared him understand the cultural differences of the countries encountered as part of the Shuttle-Mir Program. The following is an example he shared during a Phase 1 Oral History:
"We always [tend] to write everything down. In other words, before I remember anything, when somebody tells me about something, if I really want to retain it, I need to write it down. And we're always taking written exams in school and so forth. The Russians, on the other hand, everything's done orally. All their exams are orally. All of their instructors give oral briefings. There's very little in the way of textbooks or written material.
"Our astronauts have had a problem with that when they go to Russia to train, because everything's provided oral[ly] and they've having to [take] oral exams. We're used to doing everything in writing.
"The Russians, at the same time, have trouble understanding why we have to have everything written down. I didn't understand that [un]til Shannon Lucid came back. She said when she was on the Mir, they would tell her something and she'd say, 'Wait a minute. Let me write it down.' They said, 'No, you don't have to write it down. You remember it.' "
Gary Johnson 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