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Communications challenges were significant during the Shuttle-Mir Program.
For example, American shuttle astronauts were used to nearly constant communications with the ground, while Mir offered only one 10-minute "window" during each orbit.
American managers and engineers were used to instant telephone communications between NASA centers, while the phone system in Russia worked poorly. The Russian postal service was undependable.
Further, most verbal communications - both Mir-to-ground and on-the-ground between managers - were carried out in Russian, which few Americans understood well. Still further, the time zone difference between Texas and Russia is so great that normal work hours did not coincide.
To meet the communications needs, all conferences with the Mir astronauts were planned and "scripted" in advance. Email communications were used, extensively. Also, amateur "ham" radio conversations helped, especially with family and social communications. Efficient telephone links were installed between NASA's Russian office and its American centers. Mail was often hand-carried by NASA personnel, traveling to and from Russia.
Language differences remained a challenge. And to compensate for the different time zones, NASA people had to work long work days.
The following links offer some communications insights.
Lucid on Communications
Foale on Communications
Wolf on Communications
Thomas on Communications
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