Following an on time launch from Kennedy Space Center this morning and a "go" from Mission Control for on-orbit operations, the STS-85 crew immediately began activation of the various payloads being carried on the flight.
A little less than 8 hours into the flight, Mission Specialist Jan Davis used the Shuttle's mechanical arm to deploy the Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the Atmosphere-Shuttle Pallet Satellite-2 (CRISTA-SPAS-2) payload. The CRISTA-SPAS payload will fly free of the Shuttle for over 200 hours and will use three telescopes and four spectrometers to measure infrared radiation emitted by the Earth's middle atmosphere. Data gathered will help investigators from 15 countries to understand how small-scale tracer "filaments" in the stratosphere contribute to transport of ozone and chemical compounds that affect the distribution of ozone. The satellite will be retrieved by Discovery's astronauts on August 16 for its return to Earth.
The other payloads in Discovery's cargo bay - the Technology Applications and Science (TAS), the Manipulator Flight Demonstration (MFD) and the International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker (IEH) payloads were all successfully activated early in the flight.
The Manipulator Flight Demonstration payload is sponsored by NASDA, the Japanese Space Agency and is designed to demonstrate applications of a mechanical arm for possible use on the Japanese Experiment Module of the future International Space Station. The Technology Applications and Science payload holds seven separate experiments that will provide data on the Earth's topography and atmosphere, study the sun's energy and test new thermal control devices while the four experiments comprising the International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker payload will study ultraviolet radiation from the stars, the sun and other sources in the solar system.
The STS-85 astronauts are scheduled to begin an 8 and a half hour sleep period at 8:41 p.m. tonight and will be awakened at 5:11 a.m. Friday for their second day of work on orbit.
The next STS-85 status report will be issued at approximately 5 a.m. Central time on Friday.
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