The crew of Discovery sailed through an opening day in orbit this afternoon, staying ahead of schedule for the most part as they prepared the spacecraft and a slate of more than 80 experiments for nine days in orbit.
Three hours and ten minutes into the flight, astronaut John Glenn, Discovery’s Payload Specialist 2, relayed his first communication to Mission Control as the Shuttle flew 342 miles above Hawaii.
"Hello, Houston. This is PS 2 and they got me sprung out of the middeck for a little while. We are just going by Hawaii and that is absolutely gorgeous," Glenn said.
"Roger that. Glad you are enjoying the show," responded Mission Control Capcom Bob Curbeam.
"Enjoying the show is right. This is beautiful. The best part is ... a trite old statement: zero-g and I feel fine," Glenn said.
Less than two hours later, Discovery’s Commander Curt Brown noted that the mission had surpassed the four-hour, fifty-five minutes, 23 seconds duration of Glenn’s 1962 flight on Friendship 7. Discovery is scheduled to remain in orbit for a total of eight days, twenty-one hours and fifty minutes. As the astronauts’ day wound down, Brown narrated a videotape of Glenn, Chiaki Mukai and Steve Robinson recorded on the Shuttle’s lower deck during the climb to orbit. The video showed Glenn, Mukai and Robinson from liftoff through shut off of the Shuttle’s main engines.
The crew quickly entered and began research work with experiments in the Spacehab module during the evening, as well as powering up a variety of studies mounted in the Shuttle’s payload bay. The experiments range from technology tests of Hubble Space Telescope equipment to studies of the sense of balance using fish as subjects to investigations of the ultraviolet radiation environment.
As the crew sleeps, the research will continue as Glenn takes a special thermistor capsule before bed that will record his body’s core temperature during the night as part of mission’s sleep research. Discovery is in excellent condition with few problems reported by the crew or noted by flight controllers, and no issues that are of concern as a significant impact to the flight.
At launch, an 18 x 22 inch door to a compartment that holds the Shuttle’s drag chute apparently came loose a few seconds before liftoff. The loss of the 11-pound door is not expected to have any impact on the flight and does not affect the safety of the crew. While setting up equipment in orbit, the crew noted a slight water leak from a hose associated with a new system, being flown as a test on Discvoery, that removes iodine from the Shuttle’s drinking water. Flight controllers requested the crew simply not use the new system and instead use a proven older system that accomplishes the same task.
Discovery is in an orbit with a high point of 349 statute miles and a low point of 340 statute miles, circling Earth once every one hour, 35 minutes and 54 seconds. The next status report will be issued at 6 a.m. central.
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