The steel-hulled ocean research ship was approximately 140 feet long and 29 feet wide to add to her stability. She featured a crew of 17 and room for five scientists. The research personnel worked in two onboard laboratories, examining water samples and marine life brought to the surface by two large winches from thousands of feet below the surface. The water samples taken at different depths varied in temperature, providing clues to the flow of ocean currents. The crew also used the first electronic sounding devices to map the ocean floor.
The spaceship Atlantis has carried on the spirit of the sailing vessel with several important voyages of its own, including the Galileo planetary explorer mission in 1989 and the deployment of the Arthur Holley Compton Gamma Ray Observatory in 1991.
In the day-to-day world of Shuttle operations and processing, Space Shuttle orbiters go by a more prosaic designation. Atlantis is commonly refered to as OV-104, for Orbiter Vehicle-104. Empty Weight was 151,315 lbs at rollout and 171,000 lbs with main engines installed.
To Palmdale 10/92 for Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP-1). 165 modifications
were made over 20 months including the installation of a drag chute, new plumbing
lines to configure the orbiter for extended duration, more than 800 new heat tiles
and blankets, new insulation for main landing gear and structural mods to the
Left the KSC SLF 11/11/97 for Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP-2). Arrived in Palmdale 11/14/97 and mods completed 9/24/98. 130 mods included glass cockpit displays, replacement of TACAN navigation with GPS and ISS airlock and docking install. Weight reduction program replaced AFRSI insulation blankets on upper surfaces with FRSI and lightweight crew seats were installed. EDO package installed on OMDP-1 was removed to lighten Atlantis to better serve its prime mission of servicing the ISS.