Press Release

NASA Talk: A History of Being Roomies with the Russians on ISS

By SpaceRef Editor
June 3, 2014
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NASA Talk: A History of Being Roomies with the Russians on ISS

 On Tuesday, June 3 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, former manager of operations for the International Space Station (ISS), Jim Van Laak will present “Putting the I in ISS: Fostering Space Cooperation with the Russians” at 2 p.m. in the Reid Conference Center.

Van Laak will present a firsthand account of how two major spacefaring nations came together to solve the technical, economic and political challenges of supporting a spacecraft the size of a football field.

Van Laak will be available to answer questions from the media during a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. that day. Media who wish to do so should contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786, or by e-mail at, by noon on the day of the talk for credentials and entry to the center.

That same evening at 7:30, Van Laak will present a similar program for the general public at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. This Sigma Series event is free and no reservations are required.

Four times as large as the Russian space station Mir and about five times bigger than the U.S. Skylab, the one-million-pound ISS is an orbiting laboratory without equal. Van Laak will describe how early challenges were overcome for both countries through the structure of the program, the design of the spacecraft, and the commitment of participants on both sides.

A former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who participated in nearly every aspect of the space shuttle and ISS programs, Van Laak was deputy director of the shuttle-Mir Program and co-led the pioneering program that put seven Americans on Mir. He then took over as ISS manager of operations with 20 international missions flown in 18 months.

He later served as director of the Systems Management Office at NASA Langley and deputy associate administrator for commercial space transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration. Van Laak is currently working at NASA Langley for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

For more information about NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit:


SpaceRef staff editor.