'The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.'
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Living and working in space

Seven American Astronauts
Lived Aboard Russia's Mir Station

NASA portrait
Norman Thagard
Days aboard: 115
Dates: 1995 March 16 - June 29

Norman Thagard was born on July 3, 1943, in Florida. He was a Marine pilot before becoming an astronaut in 1978. Thagard made his first spaceflight aboard shuttle STS-7 in 1983. That crew dropped off two satellites in space. He flew again, aboard shuttle mission 51-B in 1985. That crew conducted experiments in medicine and space manufacturing. In 1989, Thagard made his third flight, aboard shuttle STS-30. That crew deployed the Magellan spacecraft which flew out from Earth to explore Venus. Thagard also flew aboard shuttle STS-42 in 1992. That crew conducted 55 experiments in space manufacturing and life sciences. In 1995, Thagard became the only U.S. astronaut to be launched to space aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. That flight took him to become the first American to live aboard Russia's Mir space station. Thagard, who doubted he could have stayed on the space station for six months, lost 17 lbs. despite including freeze-dried borscht and jellied perch in his on-orbit diet. He stayed on orbit about 3.5 months, conducting 28 experiments. Altogether, Thagard spent more than 3,360 hours on five different spacecraft. Retired from NASA, he now is on the electronics faculty at Florida State University, Tallahassee

NASA portrait
Shannon Lucid
Days aboard: 179
Dates: 1996 March 24 - September 19

Shannon Lucid was born in China on January 14, 1943. Lucid worked as a biologist in Oklahoma before she became an astronaut in 1979. The biochemist has spent over 223 days in space on five spaceflights. She holds the record for the most time spent in space by a woman. Lucid made her first spaceflight aboard shuttle STS-51G in 1985. That crew dropped off three communication satellites in space. She flew again, aboard shuttle STS-34 in 1989. That mission sent the Galileo interplanetary probe on its way to explore Jupiter. Lucid made her third spaceflight aboard shuttle STS-43 in 1991. That crew deployed one of NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) and conducted several experiments in the life sciences. Lucid flew again, aboard shuttle STS-58 in 1993. That crew spent fourteen days conducting medical experiments. Lucid made her fifth spaceflight aboard the Russian space station Mir in 1996. She spent 188 days aboard Mir, conducting many life science experiments during her stay. She was the second American astronaut to stay on Mir and the first American woman to live aboard the space station. During that trip, Lucid set the world record for a woman's stay in space. She also stayed in space longer than any other U.S. astronaut. She stayed out there so long because her scheduled return was delayed twice. When she wasn't working, she killed the time reading novels -- westerns and mysteries.

NASA portrait
John Blaha
Days aboard: 118
Dates: 1996 September 19 - 1997 January 15

John Blaha was born on August 26, 1942 in Texas. He was an Air Force pilot before he became an astronaut in 1980. He has flown more than 5,500 hours in 33 different types of aircraft. He has spent more than 3,864 hours in space during five space missions. In 1989, Blaha piloted shuttle Discovery. That crew performed several scientific experiments. Also in 1989, Blaha piloted the shuttle STS-33 Department of Defense mission. In 1991, Blaha flew aboard shuttle Atlantis. That mission conducted several life science experiments. Blaha did more experiments in space aboard shuttle Columbia in 1993. Then, for four months in 1996-1997, Blaha flew aboard the Mir space station. He was the third American to live on the space station. He spent half of his stay aboard Mir maintaining and repairing the huge spacecraft. No other American had spent Christmas day in space since 1973. Blaha returned to Earth aboard shuttle STS-81 in January 1997. Retired from NASA, Blaha now is vice president for applied research at the United Service Automobile Association, San Antonio.

NASA portrait
Jerry Linenger
Days aboard: 122
Dates: 1997 January 15 - May 17

Jerry Linenger was born on January 16, 1955, in Michigan. He was a sports medicine physician before he became an astronaut in 1992. Linenger has spent more than 132 days in space on two spaceflights. Linenger made his first spaceflight aboard shuttle STS-64 in 1994. That crew put a satellite into orbit and then retrieved it. Linenger flew aboard Mir station in 1997. He was the fourth American to live aboard Mir. Like John Blaha before him, Linenger had to do a lot of maintenance and repair work while on the space station. He and his two cosmonaut hosts almost had to abandon Mir as they fought a fifteen-minute fire in the spacecraft on February 23. Later, he became the first American astronaut to take a spacewalk with a Russian cosmonaut on April 29. He spent five months doing experiments. His e-mail letters home were so interesting that NASA posted them on the World Wide Web. Now retired from NASA, Linenger is a lecturer in Michigan.

NASA portrait
Mike Foale
Days aboard: 134
Dates: 1997 May 17 - September 28

Michael Foale was born in England on January 6, 1957. He is a scuba diver. Foale became an astronaut in 1987. He has spent more than 634 hours in space during three spaceflights. The astrophysicist made his first spaceflight in 1992 aboard shuttle STS-45. That crew studied the Earth and the Sun. Foale flew aboard shuttle STS-63 in 1995. That flight was the first shuttle rendezvous with Mir station. Foale took a four-hour spacewalk during that mission. In 1997, he was launched to the station again, aboard shuttle Atlantis. Foale was the fifth American to live aboard the space station. In an incident at least as frightening as the earlier fire inside Mir, he had to survive one of the worst collisions in any human spaceflight when a Progress unmanned cargo supply ship from Russia slammed into Mir on June 25. The cargo ship punctured Mir's science module known as Spektr. Mir commander Vasily Tsibliev was controlling the docking of the cargo ship at the time. The accident left him with an irregular heartbeat. After Anatoly Solovyev was sent up as a replacement commander, he and Foale took a spacewalk. Foale returned to Earth in September 1997.

NASA portrait
David Wolf
Days aboard: 119
Dates: 1997 September 28 - 1998 January 25

David Wolf was born in Indiana on August 23, 1956. He worked as a doctor for the Air Force before he became an astronaut in 1990. As an astronaut, Wolf made two spaceflights. He flew aboard shuttle flight STS-58 in 1993, spending 14 days studying the effects of microgravity on the body. In 1997, Wolf became the sixth American to live aboard Russia's Mir space station, but only after the assigned astronaut, Wendy Lawrence, turned up too small to fit a Russian spacesuit. Wolf also didn't fly to Mir until after NASA Administrator Dan Goldin assured the U.S. Congress that the station was a safe place to live in space. Wolf then went to orbit aboard shuttle flight STS-86 in 1997. After the shuttle STS-86 crew docked with the Mir space station, Wolf went aboard Mir where he studied life sciences for four months. Wolf's flight was mostly free of troubles. He took one spacewalk.

NASA portrait
Andy Thomas
Days aboard: 130
Dates: 1998 January 25 - June 4

Andrew Thomas was born in Adelaide, South Australia, on December 18, 1951. He worked as a mechanical engineer before he became a NASA astronaut in 1992. The aeronautical engineer has spent more than 132 days in space on two spaceflights. In 1996, Thomas flew aboard shuttle STS-77. That crew erected an inflatable antenna. In 1998, Thomas became the seventh and last American to live on the space station. He had been David Wolf's backup before Wolf replaced Wendy Lawrence. Thomas' flight was mostly free of problems, although the Russian press needled him for his limited command of the Russian language. Thomas spent more than four months aboard the space station. He was last NASA astronaut to stay aboard Mir.

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