An eight-and-a-half minute journey into space begins with a smooth countdown and an on-time liftoff. The Space Shuttle Columbia hurtled off Launch Pad 39B at 10:49:00 a.m. EDT, June 20, 1996, carrying a crew of seven and the Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS). Mission STS-78 is the fifth Shuttle flight of 1996 and the 20th for Columbia. Heading the multinational crew is Mission Commander Terence "Tom" Henricks; the pilot is Kevin R. Kregel and Susan J. Helms is the payload commander. Two U.S. astronauts are assigned as mission specialists, Richard M. Linnehan and Charles E. Brady Jr., and there are two international payload specialists, Jean-Jacques Favier of the French Space Agency (CNES) and Robert Brent Thirsk of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). During their expected 17-day flight, the crew will conduct extensive research in the shirtsleeve working environment of the pressurized Spacelab module, gathering data on how human beings and other living organisms along with various materials change in a weightless environment. (Photo Release Date: 06/20/96 )

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