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Mir crews can talk with ground control for about 10 minutes of each 90-minute orbit. These brief times, known as, comm passes, were directed by the Russian Control Center (TsUP) in Moscow. U.S. Mir astronaut Shannon Lucid discusses her comm passes.
She says, "Yuri, the commander, always wanted everybody on comm, because like he said, on the Shuttle you can talk to the ground [support team members] anytime, but on Mir, you had very limited periods of time." This interrupted the crew's work, Lucid says, but it had its benefits, "because that gave us little breaks all through the day when we were together, and we would have a few minutes of socializing."
Lucid was able to talk NASA's team at the Russian Control Center at least once a day. In her Oral History, she compares the handling of problems on the shuttle to the way things are dealt with on Mir. "A lot of times when you're on the shuttle ... and something's not working quite right, the first thing you do is call up the ground. ... You don't take time to think, "Oh, well, maybe this is what I really should have done or should be doing," and solve your own problem, so to speak.
"But on Mir, because you had such limited contact with the ground, if you ran into a problem that you didn't really understand, it forced you to think of what the principal investigator really was after. It just forced you to be a little more on your own and to use your own initiative. That worked out just really, really well."
Lucid says she thinks this worked will for the team on the ground, too, "because they knew when they were going to be talking to the crew, so that gave them the majority of the day ... to get all their work done so that they were ready to talk to the crew. I know it forced me to be a little more disciplined... I thought it worked out just very, very well."
Profile: Shannon Lucid
Shannon Lucid Oral History (PDF)
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty