Project Manager/Spektr Module
Charlie Stegemoeller was NASA's project manager for the Mir Spektr module, which carried scientific equipment to Mir for the U.S. residents. In accomplishing this task, Stegemoeller worked with American and Russian colleagues to determine the equipment appropriate for Spektr and its location within the module. During the activation of Spektr in May 1995, he served as the "capcom" in the Russian Mission Control Center.
As project manager for the Mir Spektr module, Stegemoeller traveled many times between the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and Russia. Because these trips occurred during the early days of the Shuttle-Mir Program, he encountered numerous challenges, especially when shipping materials to Moscow.
Stegemoeller also learned about cultural differences in technology while in a session with his Russian counterparts on the Spektr team. (From Stegemoeller's Oral History):
"You know those white boards? Press the button and it prints out the white board?
"We had just spent, I don't know, several hours, if not a day, talking about allocations. We counted up just the right - we counted up and we finally said, 'All right, let's put it on the board.' We wrote it on the board and got everybody to agree. The Russians understood the translator. We understood the translator. We said, 'Everything's right, da?' 'Da.'
"So we hit the 'print' button and the Russians just went - they sat back in their chair. One of them, Nikolai goes, 'Ah, America!' Because of this high technology, just printing out what we had written on the board.
"We had a good relationship from then on. It was always a challenge, though," said Stegemoeller.
After his Spektr assignment was complete, Stegemoeller worked with the Mir Operations Integration Working Group. This group coordinated the hardware integration and operations activities of NASA hardware that flew aboard Russian vehicles.
Charles Stegemoeller Oral History (PDF)
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