International Space Station
Oral History Project
Edited Oral History Transcript
Interviewed by Rebecca Wright
Houston, TX – 30 July 2015
Wright: Today is July 30th, 2015. This interview is being conducted
with Michael Barratt as part of the International Space Station [ISS]
Program Oral History Project, at the NASA Johnson Space Center in
Houston, Texas. Interviewer is Rebecca Wright.
Dr. Barratt was selected as a member of the astronaut corps in 2000
and as a mission specialist flew on STS-133, as well as in 2009 lived
199 days in space as a member of [ISS] Expeditions 19 and 20. Prior
to becoming an astronaut, as a physician and NASA flight surgeon he
helped to establish medical systems and operations for the Shuttle-Mir
Program and for the ISS. Recently he served as Manager of the Human
Research Program here at JSC. Thank you again for taking time to talk
with us today.
You’ve spent more than 20 years involved with aspects of the
International Space Station.
That’s hard to believe.
Especially in the field of medical operations and research. If you’d
start today by sharing with us what you believe to be some of the
most significant challenges during these years.
I think some of the most significant challenges of course were working
with our international partners. In particular working with our former
Cold War adversaries, our Russian friends. I started in the Shuttle-Mir
Program as we were working our joint missions flying cosmonauts on
the Space Shuttle, flying astronauts on the Soyuz once at least, and
then up to the Mir Station for long duration flights. We were also
at the same time giving birth to the notion of an International Space
Station in place of Space Station Freedom.
Those of us that were heavily involved in the Shuttle-Mir Program
realized two things. How wonderful it would be, because we found that
we could work with our Russian counterparts quite well, and how difficult
it would be, because they do things very differently than we do. I
think if anybody had asked us what a good model for making a Space
Station would be, the answer would not have been to choose a major
partner who speaks another language, who uses metric system rather
than English system, who has a totally different engineering philosophy,
safety culture, methods of operation, methods of manning. All of that
We realized just how different by working Shuttle-Mir. Putting that
together into a Space Station Program we knew was going to be very
difficult. The flip side of that is that the Shuttle-Mir Program set
us up to do that quite brilliantly. Without the Shuttle-Mir Program
I can’t imagine starting from scratch and going into such a
large program as the International Space Station.
You found lots of differences, but what were the commonalities that
moved you forward?
Certainly the rubber meets the road for operations, either the crew
on board or those who support it on the ground. Once you get past
the language barrier, people understood that the laws of physics are
the same, the laws of orbital mechanics are the same, zero gravity
is the same, and it was pretty easy to find common ground amongst
the crewmembers and the supporting engineers. Really language was
the only thing in the way there. A lot of U.S. engineers learned Russian,
a lot of Russians learned English, which was quite wonderful. Once
we got through that, we found that we could work together pretty well.
There are some things that we do from a common function standpoint.
We both do EVA [extravehicular activity], but their suits are different.
Different pressure, different operating envelopes. We both do spaceflight
but their ship is different. The Soyuz obviously is a small commuter
that takes three people to work. The Shuttle takes many people and
large payloads, but the elements of spaceflight are still the same.
We worry about the same things—fires, leaks, toxic atmospheres.
In spite of those differences it wasn’t difficult to find common
ground on how to solve problems.
Your role changed because you took a lot of experience and a lot of
experiences, and moved them toward becoming a flight member. Talk
about what you feel like you learned as an Earth-based person, a ground
support person, during those years and what lessons you were able
to take when you became a flier. Then also some of the lessons that
you learned from other fliers that you were able to apply to helping
those that were in space.
Of course I worked as a flight surgeon/medical officer during the
Shuttle-Mir years. I have to say that it was working with the Russians
in the long-duration flight programs that made me interested to apply
to the Astronaut Office in the first place. Working the Shuttle missions
was really amazing, but when you look at long-duration flight you’re
looking at the scenario that’s going to get us further than
low Earth orbit, and that was really interesting to me.
If we’re going to Mars, we’re going to asteroids, we’re
going to spend long periods of time in weightlessness. Exactly what
the Russians were doing, exactly what Shuttle-Mir was all about. That
compelled me to apply, and I was very very excited—and it was
very unexpected actually when I got accepted—but I was very
excited to get into the Astronaut Office.
You realize mostly the common ground that you have with your Russian
counterparts is one that you could carry beyond the Shuttle-Mir Program
into International Space Station Program. Having gotten several years
of success under our belts, it’s a model that we can carry further
if we want to, to Mars, to asteroids. I think probably the biggest
realization coming out of the International Space Station Program
for me personally, and I think for a lot of us, is that we now have
an international model where partners can come together. We recognize
where our contributions are the strongest, and it works, and we can
go forward with this model, I think, which is quite amazing.
Also I learned a lot from the long-duration fliers—both U.S.
astronauts and Russian cosmonauts—in my flight surgeon role.
I went in with my eyes wide open as to what these guys were facing,
the long preflight training, and grueling preflight training. Lots
of travel away from home and long periods of stays on the International
[Space] Station, like a military deploy if you will, and then rehab
[rehabilitation] afterwards. I think I had a fairly good idea of what
I was getting into and how it was approached by both sides.
At the same time you could realize the strengths and weaknesses of
both programs. There are some things that again our dominant partner
Russia does better than us and some things we do better. Learning
how to bring the best to the table from each side, we learned from
the medical world going into the ISS Program, and we really wanted
to carry that forward into the ISS. I was very interested in that.
I remember as part of Shuttle-Mir you had created a dual checklist
so that someone could see how to do an operation or technique in their
own language, the two languages. You would hope that that would carry
forward along with other lessons that you had done. But, along with
Russian partners you also had other partners. How did all of that
adapt to not just one, as you mentioned the dominant partner, but
how were you able to adapt those lessons to the other partners that
have residents on board?
Interestingly the medical group was one of the first to integrate
across all the partners as the International Space Station was being
born. Very early in the ’90s we formed a group called the Multilateral
Medical Operations Panel, and there were two multilateral medical
parent groups above that as well.
Very quickly and very early we engaged our counterparts from Japan,
from the European Space Agency, from Canada, along with our Russian
counterparts, and we formed a working group that was in operation
for five or six years before the first crew launched to the International
Space Station. We did a lot of sausage making before we actually started
working our crew support up there.
All of us had worked jointly together in some form. We’d flown
JAXA [Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency], the Japanese Space Agency
astronauts, Europeans, and Canadians on the Shuttle before. We knew
who the contacts were. Bringing the Russians in for the Shuttle-Mir
Program gave us a complete playing field to get ready for the ISS
and forming these multilateral partnerships. We really had operating
plans in the medical world well in advance of almost every other group.
That served us extremely well going into the ISS Program.
People understood each other amazingly, shockingly quickly. I think
a lot of us who started these programs, myself, my partner Dave [David
F.] Ward, another flight surgeon, and Roger [D.] Billica, who was
our very insightful and very diplomatic Medical Operations Chief at
the time, I think we were very successful in getting people to the
table and getting them to talk.
The group had its own dynamic, which was self-propelling from the
early days, and we had our first requirements document out I think
quite a bit before any other discipline. We were very fortunate in
the medical world. I think just having that human element involved,
the direct crew support, jelled that. People were used to associating
names and faces and friendships with the products that we were producing,
and I think that helped us a bit.
Sounds like the medical language was a commonality in itself.
Medical language is definitely a commonality. An irony is that one
of the cosmonauts that I trained during the Shuttle-Mir era was Gennady
[I.] Padalka, who was getting ready to fly his first long-duration
flight on the Mir station when we had a joint U.S.-Russian medical
kit up there. As a flight surgeon working the program, I was showing
him how to use our medical kits and how to use some of the hardware.
Years later I was flying with him as his flight engineer on the Soyuz
for Expedition 19. He’s clearly one of the best space fliers
in the business, well known. We’ve been working together for
so many years. It’s just hard to comprehend now.
Since you mentioned that Soyuz mission, I found it interesting that
soon after you arrived to NASA you were among that small group of
first Americans that ever got to see a Soyuz landing. Then years later
you were coming home in a Soyuz.
Could you take a minute to share your thoughts? At what point did
you realize that, “Hey, I was one of the first observers, and
now I’m part of this crew that’s coming home in this spacecraft.
I was one of the first people to see from America to watch it land.”
Yes, I hadn’t thought about that for a while. I was tremendously
fortunate to be one of the first Americans in July of 1993 to attend
a Soyuz landing. At the time, I was the medical officer on the Assured
Crew Return Vehicle [ACRV] project. We were considering using the
Soyuz on Space Station Freedom as a return vehicle, and of course
that program went away. But, it was our first glimpse at Soyuz operations,
how their recoveries went, and how they supported those missions.
Of course the Russians were very new to us; we were very new to them.
It was our first encounters together from the operations world and
certainly the medical operations world. It was amazing to see the
difference between a Shuttle landing, which is very orderly on a runway,
and the thumpdown in the desert of Kazakhstan where you’re never
really exactly sure where it’s going to land. It adds its own
challenges to recovery. Both systems work quite well, and our learning
curve was incredibly steep there. As it turned out, we eventually
became partners with the Russians and knew that we were going to fly
people on that. It gave us our first information, input to inform
One of the ironies there is that some of the people that I met in
1993 in the medical operations world in Russia continued to work for
another two decades after that. One very dear friend of mine, Igor
[B.] Gontcharov, who I met during that trip, was at my landing in
2009 working the medical recovery. When I was sitting in my chair
still smoking from entry with the Soyuz behind me, Igor Borisovich
was helping me get used to gravity again. That was just a really wonderful
It’s totally different observational experience.
Absolutely different aspect.
You were able to spend a tremendous time in space as part of your
Expedition. Again the lessons that you had learned, now you were able
to see how they were going to work. Can you describe those that you
felt worked well, and then maybe some that you learned there that
you needed to bring back home that you could help for the next fliers?
Then maybe some that you thought had worked but really wasn’t
working once you got up there to see hands on how it was working?
I think what worked well for me personally was knowing well how the
Russians and our other international partners approach spaceflight.
Again there are some nuances, there’s some differences culturally
and from engineering aspects. But, I was fairly comfortable and cognizant
of those differences and once we jelled together as a crew, we worked
My crew on Space Station was to begin with two Russians, a Japanese,
a Belgian, a Canadian, and myself. I was the token, the minority American
in a way. The crew worked so well together that we had tremendous
fun. We had just an amazing time as a crew together. We were also
very productive. We did all of our timeline, we did all the voluntary
science offered to us. It was really an amazing mission.
I think that understanding of how to work culturally worked for me,
and worked for everybody who was up there, quite well. If I could
share some of our times around the galley table—just sharing
meals together, listening to music, telling jokes, solving the world’s
problems up there—which we did every night together as a crew,
I think the world would be a better place. It was really quite amazing.
As a medical specialist I’ve spent a lot of time working out
the medical aspects of humans adapting to weightlessness. In between
the time I was chosen as an astronaut to when I flew I actually published
a textbook on space medicine. My keen interest was to find out whether
I had gotten it all right or not. The chance to experience weightlessness
and adaptation myself over a long period of time was something I was
very keen on. I think I can safely say I had it about 85 percent right.
But, there were definitely some differences that made me rethink how
we live in space and how we support and how we adapt. I brought a
lot of those ideas down, and I guarantee you the second edition of
the book will be a bit better because of my experience up there.
One of the results or issues that came back with you with your mission
was the issue now that people are studying about ocular health. Can
you share with us on your experiences with that and where you would
like to see those results come from?
Interestingly, the ocular health issue is now one of our top medical
risks for spaceflight. It’s not something we were even aware
of a few years ago. When you think about it, we’ve been working
in space for over 50 years now, and this is a big thing we’ve
just discovered. Personally I was on Station in 2009, myself and Dr.
Bob [Robert B.] Thirsk, another physician. He and I talked very candidly
about this also.
We noticed during the mission that we were having a little bit more
trouble looking at our checklists up close and doing fine work. We’d
known for years that people had come back with reports of vision changing,
and we’d seen some changes in people’s eyes before, but
those were very sporadic. We’d sometimes passed that off to
age-related changes. We aren’t spring chickens anymore these
Noticing that, we both did eye exams on one another with the little
ophthalmoscopes we have in the medical kit. We thought we saw a small
grade of optic disk swelling—the optic disk being the head of
the optic nerves that enters the back of the retina. We reported this
to the ground and we were able to get some hardware fast-tracked up
to us, high-resolution cameras, which allowed us to get really good
looks at the back of the eye, the retina. Lo and behold, there was
some disk edema and some other changes, which we’ve now recognized
as part of this overall syndrome of neuroanatomical changes and vision
shifting mostly towards the farsighted.
Since then we have instituted a fairly rigorous program of preflight
and postflight testing, which includes obviously looking at your eyesight,
but also MRI [Magnetic Resonance] Imaging of neuroanatomic structures,
the optic nerve, the shape of the globe of the eye itself, and intracranial
pressure, which might be an issue for us. Some of us are getting spinal
taps, which gives you an indirect measure of the intracranial pressure,
and many other measures that we’ve now been able to do in flight.
This is now a formal program. It’s mandatory monitoring for
a medical risk which, again, we didn’t even recognize up till
about six years ago. Now the big question is what happens in the long
run. Is this a bad thing, or is this an incidental thing? Clearly
it’s an aspect of adapting to weightlessness that we’ve
missed. We see the eye changes, but there’s much more to it
than that. It probably involves more of the brain and more of the
spinal cord than we thought because of the pressure changes that probably
occur as well.
What does it mean? In the long term we don’t tend to see changes
clinically of people who have spaceflight careers and live fairly
long productive lives, but we don’t see what we don’t
look for. We’ve not really monitored for these problems. That’s
one of the big things we’re looking at. Are we going to see
long-term vision changes or cognitive issues that might be associated
with this? We don’t know. It’s really gone from something
that we casually noticed sporadically to probably our number two risk,
behind radiation, that really demands study.
When you think about it, the International Space Station is doing
exactly what it was designed to do, in that it was our accumulated
long-duration flight and the tools that we had on board, and the tools
that we’re able to accommodate up there now, that enabled us
to really characterize this big problem. We’ll come out of the
program with a good understanding and hopefully a good countermeasure,
or suite of countermeasures, to this problem.
As one of the people who was involved in the early planning for the
International Space Station, there was a lot of debate as to whether
we should build this or go directly on to Mars. There’s good
merits on both sides of that argument. There’s a lot of money
and a lot of resources that went into the ISS.
If we had gone on to Mars we would have been flying missions into
deep space. Very low rate, very small numbers of people, and these
longer periods in weightlessness. People would have come back with
what we see now, with vision changes. The hyperopic vision shift,
the farsightedness, the optic disk edema, possibly increased intracranial
pressure, some of the other eye changes that we see, we would have
had no idea what was going on. To untangle this with a low flight-rate,
with a highly expeditionary scenario, could have taken years. It could
have taken decades.
It’s not commentary on whether we should have gone to Mars or
not, but I can tell you that because of the ISS we’ll have a
full understanding, and hopefully we’ll have a suite of countermeasures.
That’s I think one of the most important aspects of the ISS
for us, to find these things. It begs the question, if we missed this
for so many decades, what’s next? What else are we missing?
What have we not seen because we haven’t looked or haven’t
had the accumulated flight experience or the tools available to us?
In some ways it’s very exciting.
When you were serving as the manager of the Human Research Program
[HRP], what were some of the goals? What were some of the objectives
that you wanted to see this program do while you were there and/or
that you would like to see do in the future?
The Human Research Program is a strategic research portfolio that
looks at all the medical risks associated with humans in flight and
tries to figure out what research gaps are needed to best prepare
to meet those risks. Either to solve them or to put you in the best
risk posture you can. The ultimate goal is exploration, leaving low-Earth
orbit, going back to the Moon, going to Mars, and doing so as safely
The program was doing very well, thank you, when I got there. I was
very surprised when Mr. [William H. “Bill”] Gerstenmaier
asked me to go lead this program for a while. What I wanted to bring
to the program was more of an operational mindset. I was indeed medically
trained, and I knew the research community very well. I knew the literature
and most of the knowledge base associated with humans in space pretty
well. But, having flown, and having supported missions, I wanted to
look at our problems a little bit more pragmatically and try to do
a strategic turn so that all of the products that came out of our
research were easily mapped to solving these problems and very directly
supporting human spaceflight.
As my friend Dr. Craig [E.] Kundrot would say, it was like steering
an aircraft carrier. I only wanted to do about a 15-degree course
correction or so and really get a better understanding of these risks,
and make it in such a way that we could communicate these risks easily
to a manager of a program, whether it be the ISS or an exploration
mission. “Here’s the problems. Here’s our current
status. Here’s what we need to do to fix them.” We were
able to do that. I think they were more than ready for that type of
course correction. If I accomplished nothing more in the year and
a half that I was there, that’s probably one of the things I’m
most proud of.
The other thing is that we actually internationalized that portfolio
quite a bit more. Now we had some forcing functions. We had already
been working with the Russians for quite some time. We had the multilateral
medical operations groups. What we really wanted was a research version
of those that included all of the partners, especially our Russian
counterparts. We wanted to have everybody look at those same medical
risks and agree on a core set of those risks that we would work collaboratively
on and try to coordinate all of our research so that we were using
the ISS in the most strategic fashion possible.
We’re now certified till 2024, but even that is a short period
of time when you look at how long it takes to do human research in
space. It’s critical to have those aligned. That’s another
thing we started, an International Research Science Office within
HRP, and put John [B.] Charles, who’s one of the elder statesmen
in the international space medical world, in charge of that. That’s
gone extremely well.
Have you and your group been able to suggest new projects or new tasks
up on the Station that would help further your goals with this? Are
you putting actually things in place that will provide the results
that you’re hoping to get?
I can safely say that no one person puts things in place. We do that
collaboratively. To do something in a very evidence-based fashion
means you get the smart people together in a room. What I really tried
to do was facilitate that process, bring the right smart people together,
and get the practical products on board. I like to think the answer
is yes, that I was able to successfully get some of that on board.
Of course my flight time long-duration on Station was 2009, and then
I flew again in 2011. By 2012 a lot of our research was oriented indeed
to the ocular syndrome that we see. We were able to, I think, work
a lot of good research products up there that had quite a bit of overlap
with the medical monitoring. That was one large area that we influenced
I think pretty positively.
Are there others that you’d like to mention?
I would say one of the big things is in spite of the fact that we
had been working operationally with the Russians for a long time together,
researchwise we were not. One of the biggest issues there is your
subject pool. If you have an experiment that’s only using U.S.
subjects or USOS, U.S. [Orbital] Segment subjects, which includes
everybody but the Russians, you’re missing half of your subject
pool. You’re also missing half of the investigators who are
also very smart people, who if they were working collaboratively could
be much more efficient.
Bringing our Russian counterparts in and bringing Russian cosmonauts
to the table to serve both as subjects and operators in some of this
medical science was a really big goal for us. I wish it could have
happened a little quicker, but we’re now realizing that. I think
that’s one of the biggest efforts that we touched off there.
I think that’s going to help us get to our answers in a timely
fashion, given this limited resource that we have.
Talk about what you’re doing now with the Station and how you’re
impacting what’s going on.
Now I’ve repatriated back to the Astronaut Office. I’m
doing proficiency training about 25 percent of the time, and eligible
for another flight assignment. Write my boss and tell him I’m
ready to go. But aside from that, we all have technical job assignments,
and mine is payload science and medical issues. Anything that the
crew interfaces with regarding payload science is scrutinized by a
small group of people that I manage and we look at procedures, we
look at hardware, we look at human factors basically to make that
science succeed the best it can.
It’s a pretty daunting task because we have thousands of experiments
over these last few years and coming up. They’re all different.
They all have different groups behind them, different procedures,
different interfaces, and the crew needs to be able to operate them
all. You want those to be as ready as possible, because once you get
them up there, the Station is such a precious resource, and crew time
is such a precious resource, that you need it to be ready to go and
ready to operate.
We try to test everything on the ground and make sure that those are
true. That’s probably the biggest influence that I think we’re
having right now. Again, we’re working collaboratively the best
we can. We’re working with our [NASA] Marshall Space Flight
Center [Huntsville, Alabama] counterparts who do the lion’s
share of bringing these payloads to bear, but we’re also working
with our international counterparts—ESA [European Space Agency],
JAXA, Canada—to bring some of their experiments into flight
Now the new world is commercial spaceflight. That, aside from just
commercial vehicles that will carry our crew and cargo, means that
we’ll have commercial vendors out there bringing new science
packages, new science payloads up to the International Station through
a different route. With all these different channels to bring science
into Station it’s our job to make sure that they’re flight
ready and good to go.
Commercial vendors is certainly a significant change that’s
happened recently. Can you think of others that you can share with
us through the years that you’ve been involved as far as payload
science and medical issues on the Station? How it’s evolved
and changed? It started out looking at it for Shuttle-Mir, and then
as the Station grew and the crews grew there was an evolution of how
science was going to be done. Can you give us some examples that you
witnessed or that you might have been involved in that helped move
that evolution through to where it is today?
I think one of the main things is that just looking at the Station
as a laboratory, it has grown in capability, and it enables science
that we could never do before, because it is power-rich, and it has
an incredible bandwidth to it. As it is now, we have six video channels,
six audio channels, six crewmembers, and we can just do a lot more.
Just having a massive well-powered, very well-equipped laboratory
with freezer space for samples, the ability to take blood and centrifuge
it for serum, to freeze tissue samples, plants—now we’re
doing rodent research—the laboratory that we’ve evolved
into is just incredibly capable. Inherently that accommodates a lot
The crew is different. Right now the evolution is towards crewmembers
who understand that they are operating science as their primary mission.
Because we have completed the assembly, most of our work is not oriented
towards stacking new modules and doing assembly-oriented spacewalks.
It really is operating this laboratory. I think you find that the
skillset in the crews, especially with the training, has changed considerably.
All crewmembers, to be eligible for flight, now have to take courses
in biomedical sciences and animal handling and things that we just
would not have thought about before, but that’s part and parcel
to our work in space. The catchment, the net that we cast, for science
is much wider than it used to be. I think there were certain universities
that we used to work with on a regular basis. Of course the Agency
had ties to other in-house experimenters. Now we go out and solicit
research to wide academic audiences and industrial communities. Because
of that, we get science that we otherwise wouldn’t have had
before, which is really quite wonderful.
I think you can see that in the excitement of the crewmembers. When
they’re doing an experiment, they see something for the first
time, and they may be talking to an investigator on the ground who’s
been waiting years to get their science flown, and the excitement
that goes both ways is just palpable. That’s an amazing thing,
where our Station has gotten to. It is a science machine right now.
It’s taken a lot to get us here.
That’s a great answer. Thank you for that.
It is pretty cool.
You have had such a unique perspective, because you have worked on
the ground and up there. What do you believe will be the legacy of
The legacy of Station, there’s many levels of that. I will probably
miss some of the big ones, but I think the first is a demonstrated
international model of how we can do big things in space together.
After working Station with our ESA, JAXA, CSA [Canadian Space Agency],
and Russian counterparts, it’s very easy to imagine us going
to Mars together, going to an asteroid together. We know exactly who
to call. We know who does what. We know again where all of our strengths
are that we can bring to the table. We have names and faces. It’s
an easy leap for us, so I think that’s huge.
I think the world stabilization aspect of it is something we sometimes
take for granted, but the fact that two Cold War adversaries now work
together—in spite of some of the political turmoil that continues
to go on on both sides in the U.S. and Russia, the space program has
been sacred and left to work independently, and it works very very
well. There’s no federal agency that works more closely with
the Russians than NASA does. I’m very proud of that.
I think the other big product is that there’s going to be several
very thick textbooks written, because the knowledge base that we get
off of Station is broad and it’s huge and it’s going to
be very in-depth. That’s something that I feel very strongly
about. We owe the taxpayers, we owe the world basically, an organized
knowledge base that we’ve accumulated on the Space Station.
That has to be disseminated and freely available.
I know that from a medical standpoint just working on the second edition
of our own textbook, getting all that data together is getting harder
because there’s so much of it, which is elegant, it’s
wonderful. That’s the side of that equation you want to be on,
and we really haven’t been there for a long time. I think the
same will be true with materials science, with combustion science,
with basic physics, fluid dynamics, other more basic biology that
we’re finding on Space Station, radiation biophysics. I think
that’s really quite wonderful.
I think again just the powerful symbol it is to the world that the
biggest thing that we’ve built together is oriented towards
exploration and science. It’s not about defense or competition.
It’s all about collaboration and science. I think it’s
the world at its best.
One of the other questions that we were going to ask was if you’ve
got any memorable moments, but you certainly have shared some of those.
I don’t know if there was anything else personally that you
wanted to share over your time with the Station. You’ve talked
about the international cooperation. I guess the only other thing
is if you had any recommendations or changes that you would like to
see in the next years.
One thing. Recently I was asked to talk to some students from the
Bauman Institute in Moscow [Bauman Moscow State Technical University].
This is an aviation/aerospace engineering institute. It’s the
top tier in Russia. These are really smart kids. They were seniors
and juniors in college, and I was asked to speak to them about my
experience working Shuttle-Mir and working collaboratively with the
International Space Station.
It occurred to me that we’ve been working collaboratively with
our Russian counterparts longer than these kids have been alive. Everything
we did to build our coalitions after the Cold War and after the Soviet
Union collapsed and after our own space program was drifting a bit—everything
we did was history to them. They didn’t really live it like
we did. The fact that they can just read in a book that we were old
Cold War adversaries and that we were more competitive in space, but
now accept the new norm of collaboration—we don’t know
any other way to work, as long as these kids have been alive, I think
is wonderful. I think it’s one of the best testaments to our
International Space Program ever.
It’s a nice history for them to reflect back on. It’s
good common ground there.
It is. Again it’s the norm of everyone their age right now.
That’s really I think the best legacy we’ve built so far.
They look so young too. They were younger than four out of five of
I was thinking about your kids because basically your kids have always
had a Station.
Yes, they literally have grown up with this.
It’s like your other home for them.
I spent five years Russia. They also see it as the enemy in a way.
It’s like a military deploy.
Thank you for this morning and sharing the thoughts. We appreciate
That was painless and easy.