Space Shuttle Columbia, sitting on its mobile launcher platform, is framed against the early morning sky after the rollback of the Rotating Service Structure on Launch Pad 39-B. Columbia waits for the launch of mission STS-93 July 20 at 12:36 a.m. EDT. The primary payload of STS-93 is the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which will allow scientists from around the world to study some of the most distant, powerful and dynamic objects in the universe. The new telescope is 20 to 50 times more sensitive than any previous X-ray telescope and is expected unlock the secrets of supernovae, quasars and black holes. The STS-93 crew numbers five: Commander Eileen M. Collins, Pilot Jeffrey S. Ashby, and Mission Specialists Steven A. Hawley (Ph.D.), Catherine G. Coleman (Ph.D.) and Michel Tognini of France, with the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). Collins is the first woman to serve as commander of a shuttle mission. (Photo Release Date: 07/19/1999 )
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