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June 1, 1998

Debra Rahn
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1638)

Ed Campion
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Release: H98-94

NASA Forms Office in Russia in Preparation for ISS Operations

NASA has formed the Office of Human Space Flight Programs, Russia, to oversee the transition from the Phase One Shuttle-Mir program to the assembly and operation of the new International Space Station. Astronaut Michael A. Baker (Captain, USN) will lead this office. Baker recently was named Assistant Director to Johnson Space Center Director George W. S. Abbey to supervise the transition of human space flight initiatives associated with this cooperative effort.

Baker will be NASA's lead representative to the Russian Space Agency and its contractors on operational issues as part of NASA's Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) initiative. This places Russian liaison for all human space flight operations and initiatives under one office and consolidates preparations for the assembly of the International Space Station, including mission operations, crew training, logistics and technical liaison activities with Russian space organizations.

"It is critical to ensure a seamless transition takes place between the successful Phase One program and the start of construction of the International Space Station," Abbey said. "With this new office, the ISS program can take advantage of the knowledge and momentum gained from Phase One under the direction of Frank Culbertson.

"Baker's leadership and expertise provide the framework to coordinate activities with our Russian colleagues and provide him the unique opportunity to bring the operations team together for this project," Abbey said.

Baker has flown four shuttle missions, including his most recent flight as commander of STS-81 aboard Atlantis in January 1997, the fifth docking of a shuttle to the Mir Space Station. Prior to that flight, Baker served as the NASA Director of Operations at Star City from March to October 1995.

Other activities in Russia that fall under the leadership of Baker include the astronaut training responsibilities at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center outside Moscow at Star City and all NASA mission operations functions at the Mission Control Center in Korolev.

Currently, astronaut James Halsell (Lt. Col, USAF) is serving as the Director of Operations, Russia, overseeing training activities for U.S. astronauts at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City. Tom Cremins will serve on Abbey's staff in Houston as Baker's deputy.

For additional information on Baker, Culbertson, Halsell or any astronaut, see the NASA Internet biography home page at URL:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/

For more information on the International Space Station Program, see the homepage at URL:

http://www.station.nasa.gov

 

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