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James Hartsfield February 3, 1993

RELEASE: 93-007


A spacewalk has been added to Space Shuttle mission STS-51 aboard Discovery, set for a July launch, to continue extravehicular activity tests begun with the addition of a spacewalk to NASA's first 1993 Shuttle flight in January.

The STS-51 spacewalk is part of a series of tests NASA will conduct during the next 3 years to prepareSpace Station Freedom, scheduled to be built in orbit starting in early 1996.

"The addition of the spacewalk to STS-51 will allow us to continue refining our knowledge of human performance capabilities and limitations during spacewalks", said Ron Farris, Chief of the Extravehicular (EVA) Section at the Johnson Space Center, Houston.

"This EVA constitutes a continuing committment by NASA to advance our preparation for future EVA missions such as the Hubble Space Telescope servicing and Space Station Freedom assembly flights," Ferris added. Other 1993 Shuttle flights remain under consideration for the addition of spacewalks as well.

The tests, as performed during STS-54 in January, concentrate on defining the limits of spacewalking abilities, better understanding of the differences between true weightlessness and the ground training facilities that simulate weightlessness and gaining more insight into the times required for various tasks to be performed while spacewalking. They also expand the experience levels among the astronaut corps, Shuttle flight controllers and spacewalk training instructors.

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The specific tasks to be performed on STS-51 are still being evaluated by flight planners, however, the tasks will concentrate on these goals and be similiar to the tasks done during STS-54. The STS-51 spacewalk, as with the STS-54 spacewalk and future tests, will be done without any impact on the main objectives of the mission and will carry a low priority among the mission's tasks. STS-51's primary objective will be to deploy the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite. STS-51 crew members Jim Newman and Carl Walz will perform the spacewalk.

With the spacewalk performed in January and the one planned for July, a total of three Shuttle flights this year include spacewalks as now planned. Shuttle mission STS-61, scheduled aboard Endeavour in December to service several instruments and equipment on the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, will feature several spacewalks. However, the STS-61 spacewalks are not part of the test series.

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