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Shuttle-Mir Stories - Thagard on Testing

Shuttle-Mir brought together two space programs -- and two cultures. Norman Thagard, the first U.S. Mir astronaut, speaks about cultural differences, in his Oral History.

He says, "Throughout the experience I really thought . . . that everybody treated us pretty well. . . . In fact, several of our instructors joked that we actually did better on . . . tests than most of the cosmonauts. I guess it's just Russian culture. They will do things like this, like formally testing people, which we wouldn't do. . . .

"I think [German Astronaut] Ulf Mirbold explained that to me once. In Europe, they have literally more rules than any one person is ever going to be able to understand or know, and the general tendency is to ignore rules to the extent that you can get away with it, whereas in the United States we really don't have all that many rules, but we take them very seriously."

Interestingly, since Shuttle-Mir, astronaut training has changed at Johnson Space Center. Currently, NASA's new astronaut candidates must pass written tests in space shuttle systems and other subjects.

Related Links:
Cultural Background
Shuttle-Mir Background
Thagard Increment

Profile: Norman Thagard
Norm Thagard Oral History (PDF)

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Curator: Kim Dismukes
Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty