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As Director of Phase 1 for NASA, Astronaut Frank Culbertson was responsible for the overall management of the Shuttle-Mir Program, as well as executing many crucial decisions, such as continuing the U.S. residency on Mir after a fire onboard.
Culbertson often represented Phase 1 to Congress and to the public, and led many negotiations with the Russians. Culbertson also served as Technical Director for the program's Management Working Group, with his Russian counterpart, Valery Ryumin.
As Phase 1 Director, Frank Culbertson functioned under a tremendous workload, but he recognized his teammates were similarly burdened. In his Oral History, NASA psychiatrist Chris Flynn - who worked in Russia as a flight surgeon during Shuttle-Mir - talks about Culbertson's awareness of human stress factors.
Flynn says, "One of the things that I appreciated Frank Culbertson for ... is he appreciates that it's not just wiring. It's not just fuses that have limits. It's not just metal [with] a limit of how much it can be stressed. But ... human beings have limits [too]. And that ... gets lost [in highly technical programs] ... without people like Frank Culbertson."
Prior to his Shuttle-Mir management position, Culbertson piloted space shuttle mission STS-38 and commanded STS-51, logging over 344 hours in space. He became an astronaut in 1985, after earning a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and serving as an aviator in the United States Navy.
Culbertson directed the Phase 1 Program from August 1995 until September 1998.
Culbertson spent one year as Deputy Program Manager for Operations of the International Space Station Program. On August 10, 2001, he launched with the STS-105 crew to take command of the Third Expedition to the International Space Station.
NASA Biography: Frank Culbertson
Frank Culbertson Oral History (PDF)
Frank Culbertson on Phase 1 (video)
Meanings of Mir
Congressional Mir Safety Hearing
U.S. Mir Residents | Astronauts | Cosmonauts | Teams | Oral Histories | Shuttle-Mir Stories
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Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty