Friday, July 17, 2009

Today in Space 1975
Apollo Soyuz Docking

This was the single most important event paving the way to the International Space Station. The collaboration that began with the design of the Docking Adapter for Apollo Soyuz eventually allowed my involvement in the NASA-Mir Program. I worked alongside the Russians in the very same room that was used for the Apollo Soyuz mission. I did this for three years - on a continuous rotation of five weeks there in Moscow and five weeks home. Provided me with 11 passport stamps (or 22 if you count my returns), my voice transmitted over air-to-ground to the Mir Space Station, and loads of opportunity to see some pretty special space hardware, including Yuri Gagarin's space capsule and Tereshkova's as well! Both of which we were allowed to touch!

We have seen much of Alexi Leonov's artwork over the years. However, it wasn't after his career he started painting... This little nugget of the US crew ready to lasso the Soyuz was actually rendered by Leonov during mission preparation.

Well, we didn't need the lasso, but we made history that day with the first International handshake. And at the time, it was the most people together in space at one time. Along the same lines, we have already tied the record of most people in space at one time with the STS-127 launch (six on ISS and 7 on the shuttle). The other time we had 13 people in space at one time was in 1995 with 6 aboard Mir (TM-20 and TM-21) and 7 on STS-67 which was not a Mir docking mission. Also in 1995 we achieved 10 people on one vehicle with the STS-71 docking at Mir (TM-21 Mir 18 onboard Mir). But later today we will break that record with the hatch opening ceremony aboard the ISS. It will be the first time 13 people have been on one vehicle!

Quite a busy day in space, huh?

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