Columbia’s six-member crew will begin its first full day on orbit with a wakeup call from Mission Control about 8:45 this morning. Before turning in, Commander Kevin Kregel and the other members of STS-87 were told that the Spartan satellite deploy would be delayed a day, until Friday.
Despite the one day delay in deployment of the satellite, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla put the shuttle’s robot arm through a complete checkout in preparation for the deploy and retrieval operations. A deploy on Friday is now set for 4 p.m. with retrieval two days later just after 8 p.m. Sunday.
The Spartan is designed to gather information on the sun’s corona and solar wind during its two days of free flight away from Columbia. The Spartan also is designed to bring back information that will be useful in calibrating instruments on another orbiting satellite which the ground lost contact with briefly yesterday prompting the delay in the Spartan’s deployment.
The delay does not impact other planned activities for the flight, which include microgravity science and a spacewalk to prepare for the assembly of the International Space Station.
Commander Kevin Kregel, Pilot Steve Lindsey, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla, Winston Scott and Takao Doi and Ukrainian Payload Specialist Leonid Kadenyuk launched at 1:46 yesterday afternoon to begin Columbia’s 24th mission into space and the 88th flight in the shuttle program.
In addition to the robot arm checkout, late last night the astronauts activated experiments on the United States Microgravity Payload, which for more than two weeks will gather data on the effects of weightlessness on a number of materials. The USMP package is flying for the fourth time.
Columbia is traveling around the Earth once every 90 minutes at an altitude of 152 nautical miles.
The next STS-87 status report will be issued later this afternoon.
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