Already on an altered schedule in preparation for their spaceflight, the STS-79 astronauts are having lunch around midnight in the Operations and Checkout Building. From left are Mission Specialist Jay Apt; Pilot Terrence W. Wilcutt; Commander William F. Readdy; and Mission Specialists Thomas D. Akers, Carl E. Walz and John E. Blaha. After receiving a weather briefing, the astronauts will don their launch/entry suits and depart for Launch Pad 39A. Awaiting them is the Space Shuttle Atlantis, slated to lift off at approximately 4:54 a.m. EDT, Sept. 16, during a seven-minute window. The 79th Shuttle flight will be highlighted by the fourth docking between the U.S. Shuttle and Russian Space Station Mir and the first in a series of U.S. crew exchanges. Blaha will transfer to Mir and fellow U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid will return to Earth with the other STS-79 astronauts after a record-setting stay on the station. (Photo Release Date: 09/16/96 )

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STS-79 KSC Photo IndexNext Image KSC-96EC-1079

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