The mission of an Earth atmospheric-studying satellite is set to end today as Discovery and the STS-85 crew prepare to rendezvous and retrieve the CRISTA-SPAS spacecraft after nine days of free flight away from the shuttle.
Commander Curt Brown, Pilot Kent Rominger, Mission Specialists Jan Davis, Robert Curbeam and Steve Robinson, and Canadian Payload Specialist Bjarni Tryggvason were awakened at 10:40 last night to start their tenth flight day in space. The Japanese Astro Boy cartoon theme song "Mighty Iron Arm Atom" awoke the crew.
Rendezvous activities began shortly after 4 a.m and the Terminal Initiation burn is scheduled for just before 8 this morning. TI sets the stage for Brown’s taking manual control of the final minutes of the rendezvous placing Discovery within about 35 feet of the satellite. Davis will then use the shuttle’s robotic arm to capture the satellite shortly after 10 a.m. The spacecraft should be latched in Discovery’s payload bay by about 11 a.m. CRISTA-SPAS has been scanning the Earth’s atmosphere since Aug. 7, measuring ozone levels while correlating its data with that collected from aircraft, instruments launched on small rockets, and data obtained from high altitude balloons.
Early this morning, Robinson watched over an experiment designed to study how cooling systems operate in space. With operating problems resolved on the Two-Phase Fluid Loop Experiment, or TPFLEX (teepee flex), investigators expect to get all the data planned for the mission. Robinson later assisted, where necessary, with the CRISTA-SPAS rendezvous activities.
Although his work with the Bioreactor Demonstration System is effectively complete, Curbeam will tend to the experiment by performing a cell mixing procedure once a day for the rest of the flight to ensure the cells are surrounded by a good mix of nutrients. More than 30 data runs with human colon cancer cells were completed. Future research on the ISS may reveal a way to halt the growth of these cells or kill them in the human body.
In addition to Tryggvason’s continued operation of the Microgravity Vibration Isolation Mount (MIM) experiment, plans are for the ground to operate it during the crew’s sleep period, also, to finish gathering data. Brown assured Mission Control that the experiment’s operation was quiet enough so as not to disturb the crew’s rest. The experiment gathers data on how to minimize or even eliminate vibrations that could disrupt sensitive microgravity processing experiments. The MIM
on STS-85 is a more advanced version of one that is flying on Space Station Mir.
Discovery’s mission is scheduled to end Monday with landing scheduled about 6:14 a.m. central time. A more defined landing time will be calculated following today’s rendezvous activities with the CRISTA-SPAS satellite. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group at the Johnson Space Center predicts favorable weather in Florida for the single landing opportunity available. With plenty of consumables on board, mission managers are not calling up support Monday at the backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, CA.
The next scheduled shuttle status report will be issued about 5 p.m.
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