STS-93 Day 1 Highlights
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- On Friday, July 23, 1999, 1:00 a.m. CDT, STS-93 MCC Status Report # 1
- The Space Shuttle Columbia blasted off late Thursday night (early
Friday morning, Eastern time) to carry five astronauts to orbit for
the long-awaited deployment of Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which will
unveil previously invisible mysteries of the universe.
- After two previous postponements, Commander Eileen Collins, Pilot
Jeff Ashby and Mission Specialists Cady Coleman, Steve Hawley and
Michel Tognini lit up the skies at Kennedy Space Center.at 11:31
p.m. Central time Thursday (12:31 a.m. Eastern time Friday), to kick
off the 95th mission in shuttle program history. It was the 20th
- About 5 seconds after liftoff, flight controllers noted a voltage
drop on one of the shuttle^Òs electrical buses. Because of this
voltage drop, one of two redundant main engine controllers on two of
the three engines shut down. The redundant controllers on those two
engines -- the center and right main engines -- functioned normally,
allowing the engines to fully support Columbia^Òs climb to
orbit. The left engine was unaffected. Main engine controllers
receive commands from the shuttle^Òs general purpose computers, and
send commands to main engine components. Flight controllers and the
crew continue to work to identify more precisely the cause of the
- Less than nine minutes after liftoff, the first female shuttle
commander and her crew were in orbit, ready to begin a full night of
work to prepare Chandra for its deployment as the third of NASA^Òs
Great Observatories. It will study the invisible, and often violent
mysteries of x-ray astronomy.
- After the astronauts open their cargo bay doors, they will conduct
health checks on the Chandra telescope and its two-stage solid-fuel
Inertial Upper Stage booster. If all goes as planned, the astronauts
will send commands later this morning to elevate the 56-foot long
spacecraft to its deployment position behind Columbia^Òs crew
cabin. After a critical ^Ógo-no go^Ô decision by flight
controllers in Houston and at the Chandra Operations Control Center in
Cambridge, Mass., cables routing electrical power to Chandra from
Columbia will be disconnected; Chandra will be on internal battery
power until its solar arrays are deployed.
- The schedule calls for Coleman and Tognini to command Chandra to be
spring-ejected from its cradle at 6:48 a.m. Central time. Collins and
Ashby then will maneuver Columbia to a ^Ówindow protection^Ô
orientation with the belly of the shuttle pointed toward the Inertial
Upper Stage booster nozzle. One hour after deployment, with Columbia
about 30 nautical miles behind Chandra, the telescope^Òs booster is
scheduled to ignite in two stages, sending Chandra to its preliminary
elliptical orbit. The telescope eventually will reach an oval orbit
one-third of the distance to the Moon to conduct its astronomical
- Chandra^Òs solar arrays are to unfurl just prior to the separation
of the Inertial Upper Stage^Òs second stage, at which point
telescope controllers in Massachusetts will begin several weeks of
activation procedures before Chandra officially begins its
- Columbia^Òs astronauts are in excellent shape, with the shuttle
currently orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 178 by 175 miles.
- The next STS-93 status report will be issued about 9:30 a.m. Central
time after Chandra^Òs Inertial Upper Stage has been jettisoned to
complete its work.
- On Friday, July 23, 1999, 9:30 a.m. CDT, STS-93 MCC Status Report # 2
- The Chandra X-Ray Observatory is flying free of the Shuttle Columbia
following a textbook deployment earlier this morning and the
successfully firing of its Inertial Upper Stage booster to place the
new telescope on course for an orbit which will take it almost
one-third of the way to the moon for its astronomical investigations.
- A little more than seven hours after Columbia and its five
astronauts were launched from the Kennedy Space Center. Chandra was
spring-ejected from a cradle in the shuttle^Òs cargo bay at 6:47
a.m. Central time, as Columbia flew over the Indonesian Island
chain. Commander Eileen Collins, the first female Shuttle Commander,
maneuvered Columbia to a safe distance away from the telescope as an
internal timer counted down to the first of a two-phase ignition of
the solid-fuel Inertial Upper Stage.
- The IUS lit up as scheduled at 7:47 a.m., and a few minutes later,
shut down as planned, sending Chandra on a highly elliptical orbit
which will be refined over the next few weeks by a series of firings
of telescope thrusters, designed to place Chandra in an orbit about
6900 x 87,000 statute miles above the Earth.
- After the IUS^Ò second stage shut down, Chandra^Òs solar
arrays deployed at 8:22 a.m. on command from telescope controllers at
the Chandra Operations Control Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who
will oversee the activation of the observatory^Òs systems and its
scientific activities. The IUS then separated from Chandra at 8:49
a.m. CDT, establishing it with the Hubble Space Telescope and the
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory as the third in a series of four
astronomical instruments designed by NASA to paint a comprehensive
portrait of the unknown mysteries of the universe.
- With Chandra safely on its way and the major objective of their
mission successfully completed, the astronauts will end their long day
and begin an eight-hour sleep period at 10:31 a.m. Central
time. They^Òll be awakened at 6:31 tonight to begin their second
day in orbit, a day devoted to secondary experiments in the
shuttle^Òs middeck area.
- Columbia is flying smoothly on in an orbit 187 x 176 miles above the
Earth, circling the planet every 90 minutes with its systems operating
in excellent shape.
- The next STS-93 status report will be issued at approximately 9:30
a.m. Central time this morning after Chandra^Òs Inertial Upper
Stage has been jettisoned to complete its work.
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