During Phase 1, NASA flight surgeon Mike Barratt was the lead for the Medical Operations Integrated Product Team and responsible for consolidating all the medical operations planned for the International Space Station. Barratt served as the flight surgeon for Norman Thagard's Mir mission, and spent much of 1994 and 1995 in Star City, Russia.
Earlier in his medical career, Dr. Barratt trained in internal medicine to learn pathophysiology in preparation for aerospace medicine, and then entered an aerospace medicine training program at Wright-Patterson Aeromedical Laboratory, run jointly by Wright State University, NASA, and the Air Force. Barratt came to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in 1991 and worked on the Space Station Freedom Project.
Before the Shuttle-Mir Program was solidified, he traveled to Russia to look at the possibility of using the Russian Soyuz capsule as a crew return vehicle for a space station. In 1993, he was among a small group of the first Americans invited to a Soyuz landing.
During the months of working closely with his Russian medical counter-parts, Barratt was able to share information and techniques with his new colleagues. In his Oral History, Barratt discusses his interaction with the Russian doctors.
"There was a tremendous amount of exchange. I think it's no secret that they weren't able to record a lot of things that happened in their programs during the Cold War years. I think the very idea that there was a whole new set of people out there doing the same thing they were - in my case, space medicine practitioners - I think that was exciting to them. I think they [the Russian doctors] were anxious to share ideas and experiences especially.
"And in the Russian program, very little was written down compared to our program. The turnover is low so the same people have done the same jobs for maybe 20 years. The corporate experience is just tremendous, but you have to find these people to get it.
"Probably the most rewarding aspect of it was to meet these people, to talk to the flight surgeons who had been, for instance, supporting Salyut missions or had been supporting Mir missions for the decade of that station's use. They were much more free to talk during this time. Of course, this time allowed us to come together, and we learned things that we never knew had happened or never suspected," said Barratt.
Michael Barratt Oral History (PDF)
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