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October 23, 1997

Debra Rahn
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1639)

Eileen M. Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Release: 97-245

Precourt to Lead Final Shuttle/Mir Docking Mission

Charles J. Precourt (Col., USAF), who has visited the Russian Mir space station twice before, will command the final scheduled Shuttle/Mir docking mission, concluding the joint U.S./Russian Phase 1 Program. The flight, designated STS-91, is set for a May 1998 launch on Discovery.

Precourt will be joined on the flight deck by Pilot Dominic L. Gorie (Cmdr. USN). Mission specialists for the flight are Wendy B. Lawrence, (Cmdr., USN); Franklin Chang-Diaz, Ph.D.; and Janet Kavandi, Ph.D.

Mission specialist Andrew Thomas, Ph.D., will join the STS-91 crew as he returns from a four-month research mission on Mir. Thomas' departure from Mir will bring to an end more than two years of a continuous U.S. presence on Mir, beginning with Shannon Lucid in March 1996. Thomas will arrive on Mir as a member of the STS-89 crew.

STS-91 will mark Precourt's third mission to Mir and fourth overall Shuttle flight. He was the commander for STS-84 in May 1997, the sixth Shuttle/Mir docking mission which returned Jerry Linenger to Earth and delivered Mike Foale to the Mir space station. In June 1995, he served as pilot on STS-71, the first Shuttle/Mir docking mission. His first flight was as a mission specialist on STS-55, the Spacelab 2 mission in April/May 1993. He is currently the Acting Assistant Director (Technical) for the Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.

STS-91 will be the first space flight for Gorie and Kavandi, members of the 1994 astronaut class. Lawrence, who visited Mir in September as a member of the STS-86 crew, will be making her second visit to the Mir space station on STS-91. She previously flew on STS-67 in March 1995. Lawrence will bear primary responsibility for material transfer between the two spacecraft.

Chang-Diaz will be making his sixth journey into space, having flown previously on STS-61C in 1986, STS-34 in 1989, STS-46 in 1992, STS-60 in 1994 and STS-75 in 1996. He has logged more than 1,000 hours in space over five previous flights. Chang-Diaz, who has a doctorate in applied plasma physics, will support a major scientific objective of the mission as he works with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Investigation (AMS). The objectives of this investigation are to search for anti-matter and dark matter in space and to study astrophysics. The primary investigator for the AMS investigation is Nobel Laureate professor Samuel Ting.

The Phase 1 Program is a precursor to the International Space Station maintaining a continuous American presence in space and developing the procedures and hardware required for an international partnership in space.

For complete biographical information on the STS-91 crew, or any astronaut, see the NASA Internet biography home page at URL:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/

 

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