Astronaut Lucid set for cultural changes aboard Mir
March 22, 1996
Web posted at: 10:40 a.m. EST
From Correspondent John Holliman
(CNN) Training for her 142-day stay aboard Russia's Mir space station took astronaut Shannon Lucid to a weightlessness- simulating airplane and to the Russian cosmonaut training center for months at a time. The 53-year-old biochemist has learned as much as any American about the Russian space station.
And as she prepared to set up housekeeping there, her big worry was language.
"That has been the all-consuming (task), what has taken up all our time," she said. "I don't think anybody has a concept of how difficult that is."
Since all Mir's control panels are in Russian, knowing the language when an alarm sounds will be important to her. But perhaps even more important as she prepares to live on Russian-prepared food -- with cosmonauts who speak almost no English -- will be isolation from her family and from her culture.
"I told my family on pain of dire consequences that every night I expect them to send an E-mail message," she said. (170K AIFF sound or 170K WAV sound)
Besides getting daily E-mail from her husband and three grown children, Lucid will have regular news updates. She watched CNN International while training in Russia, and has made arrangements to watch CNNI broadcasts live on a regular basis. (170K AIFF sound or 170K WAV sound)
Learning the language and E-mail and newscasts from home will help make Lucid's nearly five-month stay aboard Mir more pleasant. But she'll be busy at work as well.
While living aboard the space station, Lucid will conduct experiments designed to find out what's wrong with the on- board environment on Mir. Once found, those problems can be eliminated on the international space station, expected to be launched late next year.
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