STS-78 Day 11 Highlights
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- On Sunday, June 30, 1996, 7:30 a.m. CDT, STS-78 MCC Status Report # 21
- Columbia's laboratory research is continuing smoothly, and the crew
will have a half-day off duty this afternoon, the second and final
such half-day break for the astronauts.
- The astronauts will also conduct a news conference at 9:39 a.m. CDT to
discuss the progress of the international mission with media from the
United States, Canada and Europe.
- The crew was awakened for an eleventh day in orbit at 1:29 a.m. to the
sounds of "Les Murs De Poussiere" ("Dusty Walls"), as performed by
French entertainer Francis Cabrel, in honor of French Payload
Specialist Jean-Jacques Favier.
- Columbia continues to operate flawlessly 168 statute miles above the
Earth, providing a stable platform for the ongoing scientific research
in the Spacelab science module. Shuttle managers have extended the
mission by one day to allow time for additional research work, and
landing is now planned for July 7 at the Kennedy Space Center. An
on-time landing would make STS-78 the longest shuttle flight ever,
surpassing the previous shuttle mission duration record by about seven
- On Sunday, June 30, 1996, 12:00 p.m. CDT, STS-78 Payload Status Report # 11
reports: (MET 010/02:11:00)
- The crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia took an opportunity during a
30-minute news conference today to send out its prayers and sympathies
to the families and friends of the U.S. servicemembers killed and
injured in the bombing of the military dormitory in Saudi Arabia last
- Mission Commander Tom Henricks, an astronaut and Air Force colonel,
passed along the crew's sentiments as he and fellow crew members
fielded questions from reporters at NASA locations across the United
States and press rooms in France and Canada.
- During the press conference which began at 9:39 a.m. CDT, the crew
also explained the relevance of the experiments conducted aboard the
Life Sciences and Microgravity mission, and praised support crews and
researchers on Earth who are involved in the mission. Payload
Specialist Dr. Robert Thirsk told Canadian journalists of how the
research will not only benefit astronauts as they conduct long-term
space missions, but also people on Earth. Some of the research will
aid studies on osteoporosis and the affects steroids have on bones,
and also may help doctors on Earth develop treatments for muscle
diseases like muscular dystrophy, Thirsk told reporters in Toronto.
"The findings will make a contribution to a further understanding,
countermeasures and rehabilitative programs for not only astronauts
but also for people in hospitals on Earth," Thirsk said.
- Joking with reporters that he and fellow "spaceflight rookies"
Dr. Charles Brady, Dr. Jean-Jacques Favier and Thirsk "were the
experiments," Mission Specialist Richard Linnehan also told reporters
this mission marked the first time such extensive studies of bone and
muscle loss in space have been done. "With the information we can
figure better ways to keep people in space healthier and fight off
muscle and bone degeneration, and also use the information on Earth,"
- Pilot Kevin Kregel also praised the video teleconferencing system
being used for the first time on a Shuttle mission. "The video
conferencing has really been outstanding," Kregel said. "We used it
to fix the Bubble, Drop and Particle Unit experiment, and it made
fixes a lot easier as opposed to sending up the message and trying to
interpret the fix on paper." Kregel also made mention of the video
system's morale-boosting properties, especially with regard to the
family teleconferences scheduled throughout the mission.
- Once the press conference was complete, the crew took its second half
day off during the mission. Crew members used the about 4 1/2-hour
break to relax and complete their second series of 15-minute private
video conference calls with their families since the mission
began. The half-day breaks have been deliberately scheduled throughout
the mission to help the crew maintain a high level of productivity.
In fact, information from the on-going physiology and mental fatigue
studies crew members have been conducting will seek to validate or
possibly adapt later space mission work schedules for peak
- In other microgravity experiments, this morning Favier and Payload
Commander Susan Helms harvested four of the 20 Loblolly pine seedlings
flown aboard the Shuttle and placed them into a chemical fixative
while the procedure was photographed and recorded on video for
researchers on Earth. The fixative halted the seedlings' growth to
capture their composition in a moment in time.
- Earlier in the mission the seedlings were bent to a 90- degree angle
and placed in the Plant Growth Facility. The seedling experiment
studies the effect of microgravity on the formation of reaction wood,
which forms when trees growing on Earth bend and then gradually
straighten. Plans call for the crew members to place four more
seedlings into the fixative in two to four days, while the remaining
12 seedlings will be allowed to grow throughout the mission's
- Mission Specialist Dr. Richard Linnehan performed modifications to the
shoulder straps on the respitrace suit today to adjust its fit for all
crew members. The suit, worn when crew members participate in the
Astronaut Lung Function Experiment, is a vest-like garment equipped
with electrodes that help monitor rib cage and chest motions during
breathing. The suit has not fit comfortably on all crew members
during the mission, prompting engineers on the ground to develop the
modification which was sent in message format to the crew early this
- Earlier today, Pilot Kevin Kregel removed the Straub experiment from
the Bubble, Drop and Particle Unit. Designed by Dr. Johannes Straub of
the Technical University in Munich, Germany, the study used small
heaters of different shapes and sizes to examine heat transfer as a
liquid refrigerant approached the boiling point. This heat transfer
research, which also was conducted on the Shuttle in 1994, will help
with the design of energy conservation systems, including cooling
systems used with high-powered electronic devices such as computer
- After removing the Straub experiment, Kregel and Shuttle Commander Tom
Henricks placed the second of two experiments developed by Dr. Dudley
Saville of Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., into the Bubble,
Drop and Particle Unit. The first experiment was completed Saturday.
Both experiments examine the shape changes which occur in a fluid
bridge suspended between two electrodes. The research may find
application in industrial processes where control of a liquid column
or spray is important, such as with ink-jet printing or polymer fiber
- Even though the crew members took time off this afternoon from their
busy schedule, many Life Science and Microgravity experiments will
continue this afternoon and overnight, controlled and tracked by
researchers at the Marshall Space Flight Center and at primary
investigation sites in Europe.
- An experiment studying the formation of a ternary, or three-
component, compound as alloys are melted and then solidified will
continue in the Advanced Gradient Heating Facility. The second
Saville experiment in the Bubble, Drop and Particle Unit will also run
throughout the day as ground-based researchers manipulate the fluid
columns. Finally protein crystals continue to grow unattended, and
the nearby Microgravity Measurement Assembly continues to measure the
surrounding microgravity environment in the Spacelab module.
- Crew members will be awakened at a little after 1 a.m. CDT Monday to
resume the home stretch of their record-breaking scientific mission.
Columbia is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center.one week
- On Sunday, June 30, 1996, 5:30 p.m. CDT, STS-78 MCC Status Report # 22
- Work in the Spacelab module this morning and a well deserved half-day
off for Columbia's astronauts in the afternoon, brought to a close the
eleventh flight day of the STS-78 mission. The day was divided by the
traditional crew news conference this morning in which all seven
- Routinely during long-duration Space Shuttle flights crew members are
given two half days off to relax away from the science work ongoing in
the Spacelab. Telescience -- or remotely operated experimentation
from the ground -- continued, however, while the crew rested today.
- The crew was asked about various aspects of the mission by reporters
during the news conference that began at 9:39 this morning. News
media from the U.S., Canada and France asked about fatigue, life in a
laboratory environment during long periods and whether there were
noticeable changes in their bodies thus far in the mission.
- Late this afternoon, crew members sent a short video clip to the
ground of the full moon as seen from orbit. Tonight marks the second
full moon of the month, commonly called a 'blue moon.'
Simultaneously with the downlink video, Mission Control uplinked the
song 'Blue Moon' by The Marcels.
- The crew began an eight hour sleep period at 5:04 this afternoon and
is scheduled to be awakened by Mission Control at 1:04 Monday morning
to begin the twelfth flight day of what is now planned to be the
longest Shuttle mission to date.
- No systems problems aboard Columbia means the orbiter is continuing to
provide a stable platform for the science investigations that continue
in the Spacelab even as the crew sleeps. At an altitude of 167 miles,
the spacecraft is circling the Earth every 90 minutes providing the
crew with views of an orbital sunrise and sunset 16 times each day.
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