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Shuttle - Mir Stories - Wolf on Replacing Lawrence

Astronaut David Wolf had been scheduled to be the final Mir astronaut, but was tapped to go instead of astronaut Wendy Lawrence, who was deemed ineligible due to a change in Mir requirements. After the Progress supply vehicle collision during Mike Foale's residency, it was determined that all Mir residents must be trained and ready for extravehicular activities, and a EVA suit could not be prepared for Lawrence in time for launch. Wolf talks about the episode, in his Oral History.

"There's a funny story, in fact. Frank Culbertson, our Phase 1 leader, came to Russia now and then, and we all met with him, and this was at the time I was [going to be] told I was going to go early. [But] I had no idea this was coming, and I thought I was going to a standard meeting.

"[So,] one evening in Russia, [while] I'm walking over [to the meeting], I'm going over in my mind how to delicately . . . broach the topic of maybe we could squeeze in EVA training [for me] . . .

"And Wendy comes out [of the meeting] with an odd look on her face. . . . [And I thought:] 'That's funny.'

"[It was] not a really terribly sad look, but it was like [Wendy Lawrence was thinking] 'Well, you know, I'm a military officer and things happen . . .'"

At that point, Wolf relates, he went into the meeting, and "Frank says, 'Sit down.' [And I thought] that can't be good. And [Culbertson said], "Dave, we've got to know by tomorrow at noon whether you can fly on the next increment and launch in maybe five or six weeks from now. And on top of that, [we need to] put the whole EVA training course in your program . . .'"

Wolf says, "I was sure I was going to be able to pull it off, whatever it took, if the system could digest it, which it did very well. The Russians were very good about coming up with a plan . . ."

About Wendy Lawrence's further involvement with Phase 1, Wolf adds, "Wendy was still a critical part of the mission. In fact, I could not have succeeded at this without her. She still went up [launching with STS-86]. She knew more about the planning of the transfer and placing gear . . . than I did, of course. . . . So she went up and just made things work fast up onboard and got me organized and off on a great start . . ."

Related Links:
Wolf Increment
Profile: David Wolf

David Wolf Oral History (PDF)
Wendy Lawrence Oral History (PDF)

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Curator: Kim Dismukes
Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty