STS-78 Day 15 Highlights
Back to STS-78 Flight Day 14 Highlights:
- On Thursday, July 4, 1996, 6:00 a.m. CDT, STS-78 MCC Status Report # 29
- Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," and Lee Greenwood's "I'm
Proud to be an American" greeted Columbia's seven astronauts today as
they awoke to begin their fifteenth flight day on orbit.
- Mission Commander Tom Henricks responded to Mission Control's wake
up call by saying that the five US-born crew members were very proud
to be Americans, particularly on the day America celebrates its 220th
anniversary. On Monday, the crew celebrated Canada Day in honor of
Payload Specialist Bob Thirsk and his country's 129th birthday.
- Today, work in the Spacelab module will continue with investigations
into the effects of microgravity on muscle strength and endurance,
astronaut lung function, and adaptation of the neurovestibular system
to a microgravity environment. Henricks and Pilot Kevin Kregel will
complete work with a laptop computer designed to test the crew's
critical thinking skills and reaction time. They also will test a
voice control system that allows them to reposition Columbia's
closed-circuit television cameras with verbal cues, keeping their
hands free to perform other tasks.
- On Thursday, July 4, 1996, 5:00 p.m. CDT, STS-78 MCC Status Report # 30
- With their sleep shifts now set on a schedule to prepare for
Sunday's planned return to Earth, the astronauts aboard Space Shuttle
Columbia will receive a wakeup call at 11:39 tonight to begin the
sixteenth flight day of the mission.
- Earlier today, Commander Tom Henricks recognized America's
Independence Day by showing a television view of the U.S. from space
with patriotic music playing in the background. He also paid tribute
to the service personnel killed and injured in the recent bombing in
- Work in the Spacelab module continued today with investigations into
the effects of microgravity on muscle strength and endurance,
astronaut lung function, and adaptation of the neurovestibular system
to a microgravity environment. Laboratory work will continue tomorrow
with several of the experiments being wrapped up in preparation for
the return trip home planned for Sunday morning at the Kennedy Space
Center in Florida.
- Henricks and Pilot Kevin Kregel completed work with a laptop
computer designed to test the crew's critical thinking skills and
reaction time. They also tested a voice control system that
repositions Columbia's closed-circuit television cameras with verbal
cues. The test showed the feasibility of the experiment to free crew
members' hands for other tasks.
- Columbia's twentieth spaceflight enters the last three days with no
orbiter problems being tracked by Mission Control. The spacecraft is
circling the Earth every 90 minutes at an altitude of 168 statute
- On Thursday, July 4, 1996, 12:00 p.m. CDT, STS-78 Payload Status Report # 15
reports: (MET 014/02:11)
- There were no fireworks, just a normal busy day of experiments for
the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia as it crossed the two-week
point this Independence Day on the way to completing its
record-setting 17-day mission. However, right after lunch crew
members did take an opportunity to play a few patriotic songs and wish
Americans on Earth a happy Fourth of July.
- It was evident to all that the closing days of the mission were at
hand as the crew members prepared to run a final planned experiment
through the Bubble, Drop and Particle Unit, and investigators on the
ground monitored the processing of a final planned experiment in the
Advanced Gradient Heating Facility.
- Pilot Kevin Kregel and Payload Commander Susan Helms successfully
performed an in-flight maintenance procedure on the Bubbles and Drops
Interaction with Solidification Fronts experiment cartridge and
inserted it into the Bubble, Drop and Particle Unit.
- Designed by Dr. Rodolfo Monti of the University of Naples, Italy,
the experiment first examines the interaction of gas bubbles, and then
liquid drops, against the leading edge of a solidifying waxy
substance. The first half of the study focusing on bubbles was
successfully completed Tuesday. The second half focusing on drops was
to have run immediately after the first; however, during the water
drop phase, investigators discovered a water injector would not
retract from its deployed position, prompting the cartridge's
removal. Engineers on the ground quickly developed a solution to what
was determined to be a minor electrical problem, and the crew members
completed the procedure without a hitch this morning. Results of the
Monti experiment -- the final of 14 carried out as planned throughout
the flight -- may help researchers learn how to prevent flaws created
by gasses released as glass and crystal solidify.
- Before performing the scheduled in-flight maintenance procedure on
the Bubble, Drop and Particle Unit, Helms and Kregel removed an
experiment led by Dr. Johannes Straub of the Technical University in
Munich, Germany, from the unit. This investigation -- which began its
second run of the mission Tuesday following the first half of the
Monti experiment -- examined heat transfer as a liquid refrigerant was
brought to the boiling point. The research could lead to the creation
of cooling systems for small high-powered electronic devices, such as
- An aluminum-indium sample continued to be processed today in the
Advanced Gradient Heating Facility. The experiment, led by Principle
Investigator Dr. Barry Andrews of the University of Alabama at
Birmingham, studies the segregation of alloys as they solidify. Its
aim is to help researchers develop ways to control the internal
structure of alloys during processing.
- Today was a busy day for crew members using the Torque Velocity
Dynamometer, a multi-use exercise machine designed to test muscle
strength in various parts of the body. This morning, Payload
Specialist Dr. Jean-Jacques Favier and Mission Specialist Dr. Richard
Linnehan resumed arm, hand-grip and leg strength tests on the
dynamometer, while Mission Specialist Dr. Charles Brady performed arm
strength tests, and Payload Specialist Dr. Robert Thirsk performed
hand-grip tests. Before the leg strength tests, both Favier and
Linnehan attached electrodes to their left legs which applied precise
electrical stimuli to cause involuntary muscle contractions.
- Thirsk and Favier also exercised on a stationary bicycle-like device
called the ergometer. Exercising on the ergometer during the mission
not only helps the crew members maintain cardiovascular conditioning
in the microgravity environment, but it also helps researchers gather
data on in- flight muscle atrophy. Information from the various
dynamometer and ergometer operations today may help investigators
determine why muscles lose strength in a microgravity environment.
- Thirsk, Henricks, Favier and Kregel today also continued their tests
on the human behavior workstation, which they've conducted on
alternate days throughout the mission. A laptop computer displays a
series of problem-solving exercises which help track each crew
members' level of mental fatigue.
- Researchers hope to use the results of the continuing study to plan
future crew schedules that take advantage of periods of peak mental
- Brady, Favier, Thirsk and Linnehan also brought to a close the final
72-hour period in the Sleep and Circadian Studies. The study looks at
how life in space affects sleep patterns, circadian rhythms and mental
alertness. The crew members completed questionnaires at the beginning
and end of their day, as well as alertness and mood tests before each
meal and throughout the morning. A similar 72-hour period was
completed earlier in the flight.
- Helms, Kregel, Thirsk and Favier continued the Astronaut Lung
Function Experiment to measure the effects of microgravity on the
pulmonary system during rest, heavy exercise and deep breathing. All
four crew members wore electrodes to monitor their heart activity, and
all but Helms wore the vest-like Respitrace Suit to monitor chest and
abdomen motions during breathing as they conducted the studies.
Go to STS-78 Flight Day 16 Highlights: