An international crew and an international payload begin their journey into space as the Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off on Mission STS-78 from Launch Pad 39B. What could become the longest Shuttle flight to date began with an on-time launch at 10:49:00 a.m. EDT, June 20, 1996. On board for Columbia's 20th spaceflight are Mission Commander Terence "Tom" Henricks; Pilot Kevin R. Kregel; Payload Commander Susan J. Helms; Mission Specialists Richard M. Linnehan and Charles E. Brady Jr.; and two Payload Specialists, Jean-Jacques Favier of the French Space Agency (CNES) and Robert Brent Thirsk of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Flying in Columbia's payload bay is the Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS), carrying a complement of U.S. and international experiments. Mission duration is currently planned for 15 days, 22 hours, and 20 minutes, but mission managers hope to extend on-orbit activities one day. If the extension day happens, mission duration would become 16 days, 22 hours, and two minutes, which would make STS-78 the longest Shuttle flight to date. (Photo Release Date: 06/20/96 )
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