Science activities continue at a brisk pace aboard Columbia as the crew supports more than 30 investigations focusing on plant and crystal growth and the behavior of flame in a microgravity environment.
Today, Commander Jim Halsell conducted video documentation of some of the MSL experiments, including transfer of Astro-PGBA by Pilot Susan Still and Mission Specialist Don Thomas. Thomas also spent part of his day working with the glovebox unit and the Internal Flows in a Free Drop experiment. Payload Specialist Greg Linteris worked with the Combustion Module and the Laminar Soot Process experiment.
Earlier today, ground controllers assisted the crew in removing an extension tool used to bolt a plant growth experiment into the Express Rack located in the Spacelab module. The extension tool, essentially a long-handled allen wrench, became stuck to a bolt located at the corner of a locker space as they installed the Astro-PGBA experiment. Crew members used a pry bar and pliers to nudge the tool loose. Astro-PGBA was installed in the Express Rack after being moved from its stowage location on Columbia’s middeck where it is carried for launch and landing.
Following a handover of responsibilities shortly after noon, the Blue Team astronauts, Payload Commander Janice Voss, Mission Specialist Mike Gernhardt and Payload Specialist Roger Crouch continued around-the-clock support of science activity. Their work today will focus primarily on combustion investigations. Voss worked with ground controllers mid-way through the blue team shift to re-start the Experiment Computer Operating System (ECOS) which went down briefly. A 20-minute procedure brought the ECOS back on line.
The seven astronauts sent an early July 4th greeting to the nation today. Voss and Gernhardt also took time to discuss their science activities with students in Victorville, California.
With the mission proceeding smoothly, and barring unforeseeable circumstances, there are no mission status or mission science briefings scheduled over the July fourth holiday weekend. The next STS-94 status report will be issued about 6 a.m. central time Friday.
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