STS-87 Day 12 Highlights
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- On Sunday, November 30, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CST, STS-87 MCC Status Report # 22
- Flight day 11 drew to a close today with the crew continuing
experiment work on board while Mission Control studied options for a
possible redeployment of the Spartan solar science satellite later
- Flight control teams continue to mull over options for a possible
second deployment of the Spartan solar science satellite that would
likely include a short spacewalk as well. Propellant margins and a
healthy satellite continue to be the leading topics of discussion
along with other experiment sample processing associated with the
primary payload on the flight - the United States Microgravity
- Mission managers will meet Monday morning to evaluate the options
and decide on the course of action for the remaining days of
Columbia's STS-87 mission.
- Today's middeck experiments continued to look at how plant growth
and composite materials are affected by microgravity. The astronauts
used the globebox facility to process samples for the Particle
Engulfment and Pushing by a Solid/Liquid Interface experiment. PEP is
studying the formation of composite materials, attempting to
accurately map the roles of gravity-induced convection and
sedimentation in the process by removing the gravity from the
equation. Status checks also continued today on the Collaborative
Ukrainian Experiment investigating plant growth in space.
- The USMP experiments continue to operate in the payload bay. The
MEPHISTO team sent electrical pulses through a bismuth and tin sample,
freezing the atoms at the point where liquid meets solid and showing
the evolution of the specimen's shape. Another materials experiment,
the Advanced Automated Directional Solidification Furnace, continues
to be operated by the ground.
- The six astronauts are scheduled to go to sleep just before 11 this
morning and wake up at about 6:45 tonight.
- On Sunday, November 30, 1997, 5:30 p.m. CST, STS-87 MCC Status Report # 23
- Mission managers decided today not to redeploy the solar-observing
Spartan satellite, which has been in Columbia's payload bay since
being captured by astronauts Winston Scott and Takao Doi during a
space walk earlier in the mission. The Spartan's attitude control
system failed to activate following its release from Columbia's robot
arm on Flight Day 2.
- Lee Briscoe of Mission Operations reported in a 3 p.m. Sunday status
briefing that flight controllers had looked at as many as five
different options for a second deployment of Spartan, but had narrowed
them to two, one involving a Monday deploy and Tuesday retrieval by
Scott and Doi, and the other a Tuesday deploy and Wednesday
retrieval. Because the Monday option would have required immediate
action by the flight control team, mission managers decided to meet
Sunday to make a final decision.
- After a thorough review, mission managers decided that the risk of
not being able to retrieve Spartan again was too great, that the
adverse effects of such a deployment on the United States Microgravity
Payload-4 science work were too extensive, and that steering jet
propellant was insufficient to protect all possible contingencies and
- "It just wasn't enough," Briscoe said, adding that Spartan program
managers believe the free-flying spacecraft is healthy and should be
able to support a reflight on a future shuttle mission as quickly as a
flight opportunity can be identified.
- Columbia's crew will be notified of the decision shortly after they
are awakened by Mission Control at 6:46 p.m. today. The astronauts
will again turn their attention to investigations on plant growth,
combustion and materials processing as they continue to support the
U.S. Microgravity Payload.
- Late Saturday morning, an investigation that could improve metals
used in automobiles and jet engines produced a measurement that has
never been witnessed by scientists on the ground. Science team members
studying dendrites -- tiny tree-like crystal structures that form in
materials as they solidify -- witnessed the fastest dendritic growth
rate ever measured for pivalic acid. The transparent acid has similar
properties to nonferrous metals such as aluminum, but unlike molten
metals alows the science team to see into the solution and observe the
- This evening and tomorrow morning, the crew will work with the
glovebox facility on Columbia's middeck to process samples for the
Particle Engulfment and Pushing by a Solid/Liquid Interface
experiment. PEP is studying the formation of composite materials,
attempting to accurately map the roles of gravity-induced convection
and sedimentation in the process by removing the gravity from the
equation. The Enclosed Laminar Flames investigation will study the
effects of different air flow velocities on the stability of an
enclosed jet diffusion flame--the kind used in industrial combustion
processes and jet afterburners.
- Scientists working with the Advanced Automated Directional
Solidification Furnace in the payload bay processed two different
lead-tin-telluride crystals today, but stopped processing before a
third experiment run when several temperature sensors used to control
the solidification of the sample showed unusual readings. A successful
lead-tin-telluride sample already has been processed on STS-87.
- Status checks also will continue on the Collaborative Ukrainian
Experiment investigating plant growth in space. Monday morning,
Ukrainian Payload Specialist Leonid Kadenyuk will compare the results
of the on-orbit plant growth, with similar plants being grown by
students in both the Ukraine and the United States.
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