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Teams - William H. Gerstenmaier, Operations Lead, Increment NASA-2

Bill Gerstenmaier was NASA's Operations Lead for the Lucid Increment. He coordinated communications between U.S. Mir astronaut Shannon Lucid, NASA, and Russia from the Russian Mission Control Center.

In this position, he was in charge of the Mir Operations Support Team for Increment 2. Duties included managing a group with a mission science representative, a biomedical engineer, a payloads systems engineer, an operations support tech, a flight surgeon, and a public affairs representative.

In his Oral History, Gerstenmaier commented on the high level of cooperation he and Lucid received during her flight, including those supporting the science experiments:

"I think the other thing that was amazing is we would schedule certain experiments in a certain time, and then the principal investigators would be back in the United States, so it would be like 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. in the morning. They would be listening to the air-to-ground conversations between Shannon and myself, and then when something wouldn't work, if there was something that they could make a comment on right away, they would call down on the phone.

"I'd pick up the phone and understand what they told me and then tell Shannon. So we were able to give her pretty good support. So she really had a pretty extensive team behind her."

Also in support of Phase 1 activities, Gerstenmaier made several trips from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to Russia. During one trip, he negotiated protocols with the Russians over such areas as downlink time for public affairs events, medical requirements, science requirements, and the ratio of Russian to American food for the Mir residents.

Prior to his Phase 1 duties, Gerstenmaier served as a NASA flight controller, a career that began with the first flight of the space shuttle in April 1981 and continued through STS-51B four years later. Gerstenmaier has an extensive background in propulsive systems, and he has flown shuttle payloads as a customer. He has said that he wanted to work on Phase 1 to prepare himself for future operations on the International Space Station.

Bill Gerstenmaier Oral History (PDF)

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Curator: Kim Dismukes
Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty