STS-79 (79)

Atlantis (17)
Pad 39-A (57)
79th Shuttle Mission
17th Flight OV-104
Night Launch (15)
4th Mir Docking
Rollback (11,12)
KSC Landing (32)

NOTE: Click Here for Countdown Homepage


William F. Readdy (3), Commander
Terrence W. Wilcutt (2), Pilot
Thomas D. Akers (4), Mission Specialist
John E. Blaha (5), Mission Specialist
Jay Apt (4), Mission Specialist
Carl E. Walz (3), Mission specialist

Shannon W. Lucid (5), Mission Specialist


Flow A:
OPF -- 4/15/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/15/1996)
VAB -- 6/24/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/24/1996)
PAD -- 7/01/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/01/1996)

Flow B: (after rollback due to Hurricane Bertha and SRB problem)
VAB -- 7/10/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/10/1996)
OPF -- 8/03/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/05/1996)
VAB -- 8/13/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/13/1996)
PAD -- 8/20/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/20/1996)
TCDT - 8/27/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/27/1996)

Flow C: (after rollback due to Hurricane Fran)
VAB -- 9/04/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 9/04/1996)
PAD -- 9/05/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 9/05/1996)
L-2 -- 9/14/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 9/14/1996)

(Reference KSC Shuttle Status Jul 1996)
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status Aug 1996)
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status Sep 1996)


Spacehab/Mir, IMAX, SAREX-II

Mission Objectives:

Click here for Press Kit
Click here for Additional Info on STS-79

The 4th rendezvous and docking with the Russian Mir space station and the exchange of astronauts -- including the holder of the world record for longest space flight ever by a U.S. astronaut -- will highlight the flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis on Mission STS-79. This is the fourth of nine planned missions to Mir between 1995 and 1998 and the first exchange of astronauts. Astronaut Shannon W. Lucid, who has been on Mir since late March, will be replaced on Mir by astronaut John E. Blaha. Blaha will spend more than four months on Mir. He will return to Earth on Space Shuttle Mission STS-81, scheduled for launch in January 1997.

STS-79 is the second Shuttle-Mir mission to carry a SPACEHAB module on board, and the first to carry a double module. The forward portion of the double module will house experiments conducted by the crew before, during and after Atlantis is docked to the Russian space station. The aft portion of the double module primarily houses the logistics equipment to be transferred to the Russian space station. Logistics include food, clothing, experiment supplies, and spare equipment for Mir.


Launch September 16, 1996. 4:54:49.048 am Window was approximately 5 min.
On Monday, September 16, 1996, the astronauts were awakened in the crew quarters at midnight and after breakfast departed for the pad at 1:08am. The countdown proceeded smoothly. Liftoff was on time. MECO occured ontime. No OMS-1 burn required. APU-2 shutdown slightly early during ascent and is being investigated.

On Saturday, September 14, 1996, activities were underway to install time-critical experiments and other items designated for late-stowage into the SPACEHAB Double Module in the payload bay. Loading of fuels into the Space Shuttle external tank started at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Sunday night.
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status 9/14/1996).

The countdown for the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis began on Friday, Sept. 13 around 12 am. (midnight) at the T-43 hour mark. The KSC launch team is conducting the countdown from Firing Room 1 of the Launch Control Center (LCC). The countdown includes 33 hours and 53 minutes of built-in hold time. (Reference KSC Press Release 105-96). Crew arrived at KSC around midnight Sept 13 and RSS retract at 11am on Sept 15th. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 9/12/1996).

At 5:21am EDT on September 4, 1996, Space Shuttle Atlantis was rolled back to the VAB due to the possibility of high winds from Hurricane Fran (Reference KSC Weather History 09/04/1996 1100). Atlantis was securely back in the VAB by 11:30am. The next day on September 5, the Space Shuttle Atlantis was returned to Pad 39A following mission managers determination that the threat of Hurricane Fran to central Florida had passed. First motion from the Vehicle Assembly Building back to the pad occurred at about 2:51 a.m. The vehicle was hard-down on the pad at about 8:30 a.m. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 9/05/1996).
On Thursday, August 29, 1996, following the flight readiness review, Space Shuttle managers set Sept 14 as the launch date for Atlantis. However officials were keeping a close eye on tropical storm activity in the Atlantic and plans were being developed to rollback Atlantis to the VAB if any storms turn toward the Kennedy Space Center. (Reference KSC Press Release 101-96)

During the meeting, solid rocket motor managers presented data on the abnormal sooting discovered in the J-leg tip on the STS-78 solid rocket motor field joints following Columbia's launch in June. An analysis showed that the most probable cause for the sooting was a new adhesive used in the field joints for the first time on STS-78. Managers decided to take a conservative approach and replace the STS-79 motors with a new set using the old adhesive material. NASA managers said a thorough review of Atlantis' new solid rocket motors verified their readiness for launch.

On Tuesday, August 13, 1996, Atlantis was moved from Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) bay 3 to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) with first motion occuring at about 10:45 a.m. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/13/1996).

On Thursday, August 8, 1996, STS-79's external tank was demated from STS-79's original set of SRBs. A new set of SRB's has already been stacked and destacking of the original SRB is expected to begin on Monday. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/08/1996).

On Friday, August 2, 1996, Atlantis was demated from the original set of SRB's and transported to the OPF bay no. 3 at about 2 AM Saturday. STS-79's original SRBs are scheduled to be used on mission STS-81 after they are destacked, cleaned, inspected and restacked. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 8/05/1996).

On Monday, July 29, 1996, Atlantis remained in the VAB while stacking operations of the replacement set of SRB's continued in the adjacent high bay. Following a failed leak check on July 25, 1996 of field joint between the right aft center and right forward center segments of the replacement SRBs, the forward center segment was destacked and cleaned. During inspections of the secondary O-rings, an applicator brush bristle was found and is believed to be the reason for the field joint leakage. New O-rings were installed and the segment was restacked. A leak check is being conducted today. If the leak check is successful, booster stacking will be completed this week and the external tank mated to the stack as early as Friday. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/29/1996)

On Monday, July 15, 1996, NASA managers decided to destack and replace Atlantis' Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) with a new set of boosters. Technicians disassembling the motors of Space Shuttle mission STS-78 observed that hot gases had seeped into J-joints in the field joints of the motors. An investigation into the seepage identified the most probable cause was the use of a new adhesive and cleaning fluid. These elements were changed in order to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency regulations which reduce ozone depleting substances. The STS-79 booster set included the same adhesive so a new SRB stack built using the older adhesive will be used until the problem can be further analyzed. (Reference NASA Press Release 96-138)

On Tuesday, 7/9/96, Mission managers decided to roll back Atlantis from Pad LC-39A to the VAB due to the projected storm track of Hurricane Bertha. The shuttle has been rolled back from the launch pad due to weather twice previously. Columbia (STS-35) was rolled back in October 1990 due to Tropical Storm Klaus and Endeavour (STS-69) was rolled back in August 1995 due to Hurricane Erin. This was the 11th rollback in the shuttles operational history. The original launch date of July 31, 1996 at 11:42pm EDT has been moved back to sometime mid September. Atlantis will be destacked from its

Earlier in the week a rollback was also being considered in the event repairs will be needed to the Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) following the discovery of hot gas penetration of rubber insulation on the boosters for shuttle flight STS-78.

On 7/1/96, Atlantis was rolled out from the VAB to Pad 39A with first motion occurring at 10:20 p.m. on 6/30/96. The vehicle was hard down on the pad by 5 a.m. A hot fire of the No. 3 Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) was then performed and then the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) was rolled into position around the orbiter. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/01/1996)

On 6/3/96, in OPF Bay-1, work was completed to remove, replace and retest six of Atlantis' reaction control system (RCS) thrusters. All three main engines are also installed. In the VAB, the external tank will be mated to the SRBs on 6/6/96. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/03/1996)

On 4/17/96, in OPF Bay-1, the ferry flight tail cone was removed. On 4/18/96 the SPACEHAB-MIR double module was removed as well as the Waste Containment System (WCS) and the Reaction Control System (RCS) (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/18/1996)


Altitude: 196-245 statute miles
Inclination: 51.6 degrees
Orbits: 160
Duration: 10 days, 3 hours, 19 minutes, 28seconds.
Distance: 3.9 million miles


SRB: BI-082 (before destacking), BI-083 (after destacking)
SRM: 360T056A (Left), 360T056B (right)
ET : SN-82
SSME-1: SN-2012
SSME-2: SN-2031
SSME-3: SN-2033


KSC September 26, 1996 at 8:13:20am EDT. Runway 15. A go was given at 6:52am EDT for deorbit burn and the 3min 17sec burn occurred at 7:06am EDT on orbit 160 at a mission elapsed time of 10days, 3 hours, 18 minutes. Atlantis landed on KSC's 1st Opportunity landing track which followed the eastern seaboard of Georgia and Florida. Main Gear Touchdown was at 8:13:15 EDT (10days 3hr 18min 26sec), Nose gear touchdown at 8:13:29 EDT (10days 3hr 18min 40sec) and wheels stop at 8:14:17 EDT (10days 3hr 19min 28sec).
The two KSC landing opportunities on Thursday were 8:11 a.m. and 9:48 a.m. In the event a landing was not possible at KSC on Thursday due to weather concerns, a landing could have been made at Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB), CA. Landing opportunities at Edwards on Thursday were at 9:40 a.m. and 11:16 a.m. EDT. If managers decided to keep Atlantis in orbit an additional day, two landing opportunities were also available at KSC and two at Edwards on Friday. KSC Friday landing times were 8:46 a.m. and 10:22 a.m. EDT. EAFB Friday landing times were 10:15 a.m. and 11:51 a.m. EDT. (Reference KSC Press Release 111-96)

Mission Highlights:

STS-79 Flight Day 1 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 2 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 3 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 4 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 5 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 6 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 7 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 8 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 9 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 10 Highlights:
STS-79 Flight Day 11 Highlights:

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Last Updated Friday June 29 11:36:57 EDT 2001
Jim Dumoulin (