Experiments on board Columbia are drawing to a close as the astronauts prepare for a Sunday homecoming to the Kennedy Space Center.
Investigations measuring how the crew’s eye-hand coordination, motor coordination skills and pulmonary function were faring after 15 days in space are complete, with researchers on the ground reporting they are very pleased with the amount and quality of data collected. The astronauts now will begin stowing away much of the experiment hardware in anticipation of their return to Earth.
Today, engineers continued to review data and develop a plan for managing waste water removal on Columbia after the line used to vent excess water overboard became blocked. Late in the day, Mission Control advised Commander Rick Searfoss that he will need to route a line from the waste tank to a Contingency Waste Container (CWC) tomorrow to offload about 95 pounds of waste water throughout the course of the day. This will ensure that the tank's capacity will be adequate to support as much as two additional days in orbit in the event Columbia cannot land as planned due to weather conditions.
The final of three behavioral sessions to determine the dexterity of young rats who have developed their motor skills in space also was completed today. The investigation studies the response of the animals as they are tilted and turned while walking and climbing on the surfaces.
Hire, Commander Rick Searfoss and Pilot Scott Altman practiced with the Portable In-flight Landing Operations Trainer (PILOT). Consisting of a laptop computer and a joystick system, PILOT helps to maintain a high level of proficiency for the end-of-mission approach and landing tasks required to bring Columbia safely back to Earth.
Preliminary weather forecasts at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday look favorable for a landing at 11:09 a.m. CDT.
Columbia remains in a 151 x 131 nautical mile orbit, circling the Earth every 90 minutes.
The next STS-90 status report will be issued about 6 a.m. Saturday or as events warrant.
UPCOMING EVENTS ON NASA TV, MAY 2, 1998
MET CDT EDT
MISSION STATUS BRIEFING/ 14/22:41 12:00 PM 01:00 PM
FLIGHT DAY HIGHLIGHTS 15/02:41 04:00 PM 05:00 PM
CREW ACTIVITY REPORT / 15/03:41 05:00 PM 06:00 PM FLIGHT DAY HIGHLIGHTS REPLAY / VIDEO FILE REPLAY (replayed every hour on the hour through crew wake up)
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