STS-94 Day 2 Highlights
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- On Wednesday, July 2, 1997, 6:30 a.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 2
- The red team of STS-94, Commander Jim Halsell and Pilot Susan Still
along with Mission Specialist Don Thomas and Payload Specialist Greg
Linteris have been busy continuing the payload activation process
begun by their blue team counterparts as the research efforts of the
Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL) mission get into full swing.
- The STS-94 crew will spend more than two weeks studying the
properties of combustion and the behavior of metals, materials and
fluids in the absence of gravity. The astronauts are split into two
teams working 12-hour shifts to provide around-the-clock operations in
the pressurized Spacelab science module.
- Shortly after waking up just before midnight, Halsell and Still set
up the bicycle ergometer in the Shuttles middeck area. Each of the
STS-94 crewmembers will use the bicycle for exercise during the
flight. Thomas activated the Large Isothermal Furnace (LIF)
experiment and the Expedite the Processing of Experiments to the
International Space Station (EXPRESS) rack while Linteris continued
the activation of Protein Crystal Growth experiments.
- Remaining activities in the red teams day will include the setup and
checkout of the Wireless Data Acquisition System (WDAS) experiment.
This is a proof of concept payload that uses wireless RF signals to
relay data from temperature sensors in the payload bay and Spacelab
module. Analysis of future Space Station operation requirements
indicate that there may be a need for real time monitoring of
temperature readings in various parts of the station and a system such
as the WDAS could meet that need.
- Columbias blue team of astronauts, Janice Voss the payload
commander, Mission Specialist Mike Gernhardt and Payload Specialist
Roger Crouch will wake up shortly after 9 this morning to begin its
second day of work in space.
- The blue team will conduct an interview beginning at 5:17 this
afternoon with the Fox News Channel to discuss the reflight of
Columbia and a second chance at accomplishing the MSL science goals.
- On Wednesday, July 2, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CST, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 02
- Overnight, Columbia's crew continued to transform the Spacelab into
an operational, sophisticated multi-use research laboratory by
activating Microgravity Science Laboratory Mission - 1's experiment
facilities . The space-borne laboratory, with a work area
approximately 18 feet by 7 feet, houses most of the 25 primary
experiments, four glovebox investigations and four accelerometer
studies aboard Columbia.
- On the ground, mission scientists are using lessons learned from
STS-83 to get the most out of the reflight opportunity. "Experience
gained from our first flight has allowed us to make changes in our
plans and procedures in order to perform this scientific research more
effectively," said Dr. Patton Downey, assistant mission scientist.
- In the Spacelab, the blue shift science crew members -- Payload
Commander Dr. Janice Voss and Payload Specialist Dr. Roger Crouch --
spent much of their shift readying experiment facilities and
activating protein crystal growth and accelerometer experiments.
- In the middeck, Crouch activated the Protein Crystallization
Apparatus for Microgravity -- one of three protein crystal growth
experiments slated for MSL-1. The microgravity environment of space
allows researchers to grow larger and more perfect specimens. Once
back on Earth, scientists perform X-ray diffraction studies on the
specimens to determine their structures. Better understanding of a
proteins structure could allow scientists to design more effective
drugs to treat diseases such as cancer, diabetes, alcoholism, AIDS and
Alzheimers. The Protein Crystallization Apparatus for Microgravity
experiment is led by Dr. Daniel Carter of New Century Pharmaceuticals
in Huntsville, Ala.
- The four microgravity measurement systems have been activated to
begin monitoring any slight disturbances in the weightlessness
environment aboard Columbia. The Orbital Acceleration Research
Experiment, which began its operations at launch, will measure very
low frequency accelerations in the Shuttle's payload bay. On orbit,
Microgravity Measurement Assembly sensor heads -- which will be used
to monitor the microgravity environment inside Spacelab -- have been
installed into areas of the Spacelab where gravity-sensitive
investigations are located.
- Voss installed and activated the Space Acceleration Measurement
System sensors which will be used to monitor accelerations near the
Large Isothermal Furnace and the Glovebox. She also installed the
Quasi-Steady Acceleration Measurement System's optical disk that will
be used to record very low frequency and residual accelerations in one
of Spacelab's racks. NASA's Lewis Research Center in Cleveland,
Ohio manages all of the acceleration measurement experiments.
- Voss completed her first shift by mounting and activating the
Protein Crystal Growth experiment using Hand-Held Diffusion Test Cells
in the Spacelab. She also set up video equipment to monitor the
experiment. The experiments principal investigator, Dr. Alex
McPherson of the University of California in Riverside, Calif., hopes
to use data from this experiment to refine cell design and optimize
growth procedures and conditions for future Protein Crystal Growth
- Dr. Roger Crouch prepared the electromagnetic containerless
processing facility or TEMPUS, for operations. Developed by the
German Space Agency, TEMPUS allows scientists on the ground to process
metallic samples in a containerless microgravity environment. A metal
alloy sample -- about a third of an inch in diameter -- will be
suspended in a free space within a set of coils, melted and then
resolidified. Video cameras and heat sensors will analyze how the
specimens change shape -- yielding basic information about the
materials' properties that are masked by gravity on Earth.
Information gained from the samples to be processed in the TEMPUS
facility could lead to improved welding, casting and soldering
techniques on Earth.
- After crew handover near midnight, the red shift consisting of
Mission Specialists Dr. Michael Gernhardt and Dr. Donald Thomas and
Payload Specialist Dr. Gregory Linteris continued to activate
experiment facilities aboard Spacelab.
- First, Thomas activated the Large Isothermal Furnace. The
vacuum-heating furnace is designed to heat large samples uniformly.
It has a maximum temperature of 2,912 F and can cool a sample rapidly
through the use of a helium purge. The research team will command the
heating and cooling processes from the ground so they can make
real-time changes to enhance science operations.
- Scientists are using this facility to study a familiar process --
diffusion. This is the process that for instance, helps carry the
smell of baked bread from the oven throughout the house, or allows
food coloring to disperse through a glass of water without
stirring. This process is also very important in the study of metals
and alloys, and on the ground. However, the diffusion process can be
masked by fluid motions arising from the effects of gravity.
Knowledge gained from unmasking the process in the microgravity
environment could improve materials processing on Earth.
- In the early morning hours, Linteris activated MSL's third and
final protein crystal growth experiment -- the Second Generation Vapor
Diffusion Apparatus. The experiment is led by Dr. Larry Delucas of
the Center for Macromolecular Crystallography at the University of
Alabama in Birmingham.
- Later, Thomas readied the EXPRESS Rack for science operations by
connecting the power cable, configuring the water loop, opening the
water control valve and turning on the facility. He then activated
the Physics of Hard Spheres experiment that will take place in the
EXPRESS Rack. Headed up by Dr. Paul Chaikin of Princeton University
in New Jersey; the experiment will examine the changes which occur
during the transition of a substance from liquid to solid and solid to
liquid. Results of the experiment could improve the design of
metallic alloys and processing techniques.
- Ahead, Linteris will begin a study of the properties of soot in the
Combustion Module-1, and Thomas will begin a study in the Large
Isothermal Furnace to measure the fundamental variables which regulate
the diffusion of impurities in molten salts.
- On Wednesday, July 2, 1997, 5:30 p.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 3
- The three blue team astronauts, Payload Commander Janice Voss,
Mission Specialist Mike Gernhardt and Payload Specialist Roger Crouch,
are studying the behavior of flame balls and soot as the Microgravity
Science Laboratory mission is in its first full day on orbit.
- These experiments will provide researchers with an improved
understanding of the combustion process and may lead to improvements
in combustion engines, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing
- The seven-member crew will spend more than two weeks studying the
properties of combustion and the behavior of metals, materials and
fluids in the absence of gravity. The astronauts are working 12-hour
shifts in two teams, providing around-the-clock support for science
- This morning, just before 7 a.m. central time, Mission Specialist
Don Thomas told the flight control team in Houston that he and his Red
Team crew mates, Commander Jim Halsell, Pilot Susan Still and Payload
Specialist Greg Linteris, could see the Mir spacecraft some 60 miles
distant from Columbia.
- Also this morning, Still performed some troubleshooting activities
with the Wireless Data Acquisition System (WDAS) experiment when it
experienced difficulty in communicating with its payload support
computer. This is a proof of concept payload that uses wireless RF
signals to relay data from temperature sensors in the payload bay and
- The Red Team began a planned eight-hour sleep period shortly after
3:30 p.m. today.
- Voss, Gernhardt and Crouch also discussed the reflight of Columbia
and their science-gathering activities in an interview with the Fox
News Channel shortly after 5 p.m. today.
- The next STS-94 status report will be issued about 6 a.m. central
- On Wednesday, July 2, 1997, 6:00 p.m. CST, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 03
- After just 36 hours in orbit, the crew of the Microgravity Science
Laboratory mission, along with science teams on the ground, have
successfully activated Spacelabs experiment facilities and are
getting down to the primary business of the mission -- to conduct
fundamental scientific research in space.
- "Everything is where it should be and we're excited about bringing
experiments to a definitive conclusion on this mission," said Mission
Scientist Dr. Mike Robinson with Marshall Space Flight Center in
- This morning, Mission Specialist Dr. Donald Thomas initiated the
first of two runs of a diffusion of liquid metals study being
conducted in the Large Isothermal Furnace. Diffusion is the process by
which liquid metals mix without stirring -- similar to how the smell
of baking bread, for instance, spreads from the oven throughout the
house. This process cannot be adequately studied on Earth because of
fluid movement caused by gravity.
- The investigation is a study of the diffusion of impurities in
molten salts. The experiment is aimed at determining the diffusion
coefficient -- a fundamental quantity which describes the diffusion
process -- of the sample. As the first sample began processing,
researchers on the ground detected unexpected readings from the
sample's temperature sensor and decided to replace it with a backup
sample of the same make-up. Processing of the backup sample has been
under way since late this afternoon.
- This study, headed by Dr. Tsutomu Yamamura of Tohoku University in
Sendai, Japan, is designed to reveal ideal conditions for electrolysis
of molten salts. Electrolysis is the use of an electrical current to
break down a dissolved substance into its constituent
components. Findings may also benefit basic science and engineering
processes on Earth.
- The blue shift -- Payload Commander Dr. Janice Voss and Payload
Specialist Dr. Roger Crouch -- began their 12-hour shift at noon
- Voss ignited the first flame of the mission's combustion science
experiments this afternoon to begin a study of the properties of
soot. This investigation is collecting information on flame shape, the
type and amount of soot produced under various conditions and the
temperature of soot components.
- Researchers say the first flight of the Microgravity Science
Laboratory in April gave them a first look at how these soot particles
form and allowed them to enhance the experiment for this flight. They
are excited about the scientific possibilities this mission will
- "Soot is responsible for 4,000 deaths in unwanted fires and 15,000 to
60,000 deaths each year as a pollutant," said principal investigator
Dr. Gerard Faeth, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
- Information gathered from this study may lead to a better
understanding of how to contain unwanted fires and limit the number of
fatalities from carbon monoxide emissions.
- Crouch readied the TEMPUS facility this afternoon for
operations. This electromagnetic containerless processing facility
will be used to conduct studies of the undercooling and rapid
solidification of metals and alloys. Undercooling occurs when a solid
is melted into a liquid then cooled below its normal freezing point
without solidifying. Gravitys requirement for a container and its
influence on fluid flows make it nearly impossible to conduct these
studies on Earth. Findings from this research may improve ground-based
techniques processing materials and in turn improve materials and
- Crouch then checked out the Middeck Glovebox facility in preparation
for a fluid physics study set to begin later this evening. The
experiment will examine non-contact and remote manipulation techniques
for controlling the position and motion of liquids in
low-gravity. Results of the study may find application in improving
many important processes used by chemical manufacturing industries on
Earth, including the petroleum technology, cosmetics and food sciences
- Also ahead, Voss will set up the Droplet Combustion Apparatus for a
study of burning fuel droplets. The study is gathering information on
burning rates of flames, flame structures and conditions under which
flames are extinguished. Results of the investigation will provide
researchers with a better understanding of the combustion process and
may lead to cleaner, safer ways to burn fossil fuels as well as more
efficient methods of generating heat and power on Earth.
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