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Kyle Herring March 17, 1994

RELEASE: 94-023


Dr. Kathryn C. Thornton, Ph.D., has been named Payload Commander of the second United States Microgravity Laboratory mission (USML-2) scheduled for launch in the fall of 1995 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. Also chosen as a mission specialist was Dr. Catherine G. "Cady" Coleman, Ph.D. (Captain, USAF).

STS-73, presently scheduled to last 16 days, will become the longest mission in Space Shuttle program history and is designed to continue over extended duration's in space.

USML-2 follows the first microgravity laboratory mission, STS-50, flown in June and July 1992. The mission will continue the series of Shuttle flights dedicated to studying microgravity materials processing technology through research sponsored by government, industry and academia. The mission will focus on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, the physics of fluids and many other scientific experiments to be housed in the pressurized Spacelab module.

For Thorton, STS-73 will be her fourth Shuttle flight. She first flew aboard Discovery on a Department of Defense mission (STS-33) in November 1989. Her second flight was in May 1992 on the maiden voyage of Endevour (STS-49) to rescue and repair the Intelsat spacecraft and to examine assembly techniques for large space structures such as the international space station. On that flight, Thornton evaluated assembly techniques during 1 of 4 spacewalks. Thornton's most recent flight in December 1993 was aboard Endeavour as a member of the crew sent to carry out the first serviving of the Hubble Space Telescope (STS-61). On that flight, she was one of four astronauts that conducted a record 5 spacewalks.

Coleman will be making her first flight on the Space Shuttle. She was selected to be an astronaut in 1992. Coleman graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Va., in 1978. She earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983 and a doctorate in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts in 1991.

Since completion of astronaut training, Coleman has supported the Astronaut Office Mission Support Branch, assisting with flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory.


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