Columbia’s astronauts conducted a variety of experiments in their second day in space today, gearing up for the deployment of the SPARTAN solar science satellite Friday, one day behind schedule.
With a companion solar satellite called SOHO back on line after a temporary power glitch, the stage is set for the release of SPARTAN tomorrow at 3:03 p.m. Central time for about 50 hours of free-flying observations of solar phenomena. SOHO, which was launched on an Atlas-2 rocket in December 1995, will conduct co-investigations with SPARTAN while the boxy satellite flies free of Columbia. SPARTAN will be retrieved just after 8 p.m. Central time Sunday. The one-day delay in deploying SPARTAN will have no effect on other planned activities during the 16-day flight, including a scheduled spacewalk by Mission Specialists Winston Scott and Takao Doi Monday night to test assembly techniques for the International Space Station. Doi will become the first Japanese astronaut to walk in space.
Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla (pron: Kulp’-nuh Chav’-lah) and Pilot Steve Lindsey will operate Columbia’s 50-foot long robot arm for the deployment of SPARTAN tomorrow afternoon. Once the satellite is released, Commander Kevin Kregel will fire jet thrusters to slowly separate from SPARTAN as it begins its scientific operations.
Throughout the day, the astronauts conducted experiments involving the effect of weightlessness on materials and fluids. Lindsey also worked with an experiment to study ozone layers set against the limb of the Earth.
Ukrainian Payload Specialist Leonid Kadenyuk spent the day conducting studies involving plant growth in weightlessness with the CUE experiment, the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment which Kadenyuk will operate throughout the course of the flight.
Columbia is flying smoothly on at an altitude of 176 statute miles with all of its systems functioning in excellent shape. Columbia is circling the Earth every 90 minutes in an orbit inclined 28 and a half degrees to either side of the Equator.
The next STS-87 status report will be issued at 6 a.m. Central time Friday.
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