Shrubbery and palmettos frame the fiery launch of Space Shuttle Columbia at 12:31 a.m. EDT. STS-93 is a five-day mission primarily to release 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 crew numbers five: Commander Eileen M. Collins, Pilot Jeffrey S. Ashby, and Mission Specialists Stephen 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. The target landing date is July 27, 1999, at 11:20 p.m. EDT. (Photo Release Date: 07/23/1999 )
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