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Press Release 96-26

Lori J. Rachul
NASA Lewis Research Center

Upcoming Shuttle Mission to have four NASA Lewis Microgravity Experiments on Board

CLEVELAND, OH -- On Sunday, May 19, 1996, the space shuttle Endeavour STS-77 will launch with four Lewis experiments on board. This will bring the total number of Lewis experiments flown on a shuttle mission to 82.

The Lewis experiments are part of the Agency's fourth shuttle mission of 1996, which is primarily dedicated to the continuing effort to ensure accessibility to the commercial space frontier.

The four Lewis experiments on STS-77 include:

The Vented Tank Resupply Experiment (VTRE) will examine liquid venting in space, a technology needed to support fluid storage and resupply. The results of the experiment will be used to design more effective spacecraft liquid storage tanks and improved methods for in- space refueling. Lewis employees working on this experiment include Principle Investigator David J. Chato and VTRE Program Manager Alban D. Seigneur.

The Microgravity Smoldering Combustion (MSC) experiment will study the smolder characteristics of porous combustible materials in a microgravity environment. Examples of some common materials that support smoldering are non-flaming embers, charcoal briquettes and cigarettes. The objective of the experiment is to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that control combustion, both in microgravity and Earth gravity. Lewis employees working on this include Project Manager John M. Koudelka and Project Scientist Dr. David L. Urban.

The Pool Boiling Experiment is an extension of the study of the fundamentals of nucleate pool boiling heat transfer under the microgravity conditions of space. Anyone who has boiled water on a stove top would be familiar with nucleate pool boiling. The results of the experiment may be used to find new ways to dissipate heat from the space shuttle or future manned space platforms. Closer to home, potential benefits could include more effective air conditioning and refrigeration systems, and improvements in power plants that could reduce the cost of generating electricity. Lewis employees working on this experiment include Project Manager Michael H. Brace and Project Scientist Dr. Francis P. Chairamonte.

The Tank Pressure Control Experiment/Reduced Fill Level (TPCE/RFL) will provide data required to develop the technology for pressure control of cryogenic tankage. The results of the experiment will provide valuable insight into controlling pressure in on-orbit storage tanks for cryogenic propellants and life support fluids, particularly liquid hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. This experiment uses flight hardware on loan to the University of Cincinnati from Lewis. Lewis engineer Richard H. Knoll is serving as a consultant on this project.

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