A NASA astronaut who was supposed to spend four months aboard the Russian space station Mir in 1997 has been yanked from training because he’s too tall.
The 6-foot-2 Scott Parazynski is just over the Russian space agency’s height requirement for the cramped Soyuz capsules that ferry cosmonauts to and from Mir.
Although Parazynski was supposed to fly to and from Mir on NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis, Russian space officials worried how he would fit into a Soyuz capsule in case of an emergency. A Soyuz capsule is always docked with Mir and provides the only way back to Earth if something goes wrong in orbit.
Dr. Norman Thagard, who returned from Mir in July after nearly four months aloft, is 5 feet 9 inches tall. The three other NASA astronauts training in Russia are no more than 6 feet.
Frank Culbertson, NASA’s acting director of the shuttle-Mir program, said NASA knew of the height requirement when sending Parazynski to Russia four months ago, but had hoped the Russians would modify a Soyuz for him.