Following a week of activities that included the deployment of an atmospheric satellite, evaluation tests of hardware and software to be used on the future International Space Station and work with numerous science and technology experiments, the STS-85 astronauts enjoyed some time off before they enter the home stretch of their 11-day mission.
Commander Curt Brown, Pilot Kent Rominger, Mission Specialists Jan Davis, Robert Curbeam, Steve Robinson and Payload Specialist Bjarni Tryggvason from the Canadian Space Agency were given a half day off as is normally done on longer shuttle missions to keep the crew well rested and operating at peak efficiency. The crew is in a nine-hour sleep period that began at 2:41 p.m.
This morning, Robinson again used the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System (SWUIS), a 7-inch imaging telescope that is pointed out of the orbiter’s middeck hatch window, to observe the Hale-Bopp comet. Curbeam continued his work with the Bioreactor Demonstration System designed to perform cell biology experiments under controlled conditions. Tryggvason spent part of his time troubleshooting a computer hard drive system that support the Microgravity Vibration Isolation Mount experiment.
As the shuttle crew entered the final portion of its flight, the new Mir 24 crew of Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov, who arrived on the station the same day Discovery was launched, bid farewell to Mir 23 Commander Vasily Tsibliev and Flight Engineer Alexander Lazutkin who are returning home after 185 days in space. The Soyuz vehicle carrying the Mir 23 crew home undocked from the station at 3:56 a.m. CDT. Following a four-minute deorbit burn at 6:22 a.m. and journey through the atmosphere, their spacecraft landed in Central Asia at 7:17 a.m. CDT. After Tsibliev and Lazutkin landed, they were flown to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center outside of Moscow, where they will undergo medical exams and debriefings about their mission. They were reunited with their families shortly after returning to the Star City facility.
When the Discovery crew resumes full-up operations Friday, it will have one additional experiment activity. Mission managers have approved a plan to conduct further ground commanded maneuvers of the small mechanical arm associated with the Manipulator Flight Demonstration payload that were not completed during yesterday’s testing session. The STS-85 astronauts are scheduled to receive a wake-up call from Mission Control at 11:41 p.m. tonight to begin their ninth day of on orbit activities.
The next scheduled mission status report will be issued about 6 a.m. on Friday morning.
- end -