STS-93 Commander Eileen M. Collins waves to her family nearby, a last meeting before launch of mission STS-93 on July 20. Liftoff is scheduled for 12:36 a.m. EDT. The primary mission of STS-93 is the release of 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 to unlock the secrets of supernovae, quasars and black holes. The STS-93 crew numbers five: Commander 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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