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Gary Kitmacher was NASA's project manager for the Mir module, Priroda. Launched on April 23, 1996, the Priroda was the last module sent to the Russian Space Station. This module contained U.S. science and systems hardware in support of the American science to be conducted while the astronauts resided on the Mir. In his Oral History, Kitmacher commented on his opportunity to lead the Priroda effort:
"There was already an ongoing effort to put science hardware onboard the Spektr module. The Spektr, which was one of the modules of the Mir station, carried much of the life sciences hardware. The Priroda was a little bit different, in that the Priroda module was going to support a great deal of Earth observation activity and, from the science aspect, from the NASA science aspect, was going to support microgravity experiments, which is really more of my forte…."
After his Priroda duties, Kitmacher supported the Mir Operations and Integration Working Group (MOIWG). This team was the joint NASA/Russia working group responsible for placing hardware onboard Mir and ensuring that NASA and Mir astronauts were trained to properly operate that equipment. He established much of the configuration management and program management associated with that working group.
Prior to his Priroda duties, Kitmacher was the mission manager for STS-60, the first flight of the Phase 1 Program, and the mission that included Sergei Krikalev, the first cosmonaut to ride on a shuttle. Kitmacher has also been involved in the design of the International Space Station and was associated with the Spacehab project. The Spacehab is a commercial module that was developed to support U.S. science onboard the space shuttle.
A career highlight occurred when U.S.-Mir Astronaut Shannon Lucid honored him with the Silver Snoopy award. The Silver Snoopy represents the astronaut corps' recognition of an individual's outstanding performance in support of the human spaceflight program. In his spare time, Kitmacher enjoys building models of the Mir and the Space Shuttles.
Gary Kitmacher 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