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March 21, 1997

Debbie Rahn/Jennifer McCarter
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1778)

Ed Campion/Rob Navias
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Lisa Malone/Bruce Buckingham
Kennedy Space Center, FL
(Phone: 407/867-2468)

Release: 97-49

NASA Managers Set April 3 As Launch Date For The Microgravity Science Laboratory Mission

Following completion of the Flight Readiness Review yesterday, NASA managers set April 3 as the official launch date for NASA's Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) mission.

The focus of the upcoming mission, designated STS-83, will concentrate on NASA's efforts to further understand the subtle and complex phenomena associated with the influence of gravity in many aspects of daily life.

The STS-83 flight agenda resembles future work set to take place aboard the International Space Station. STS-83 will be the 22nd flight of Space Shuttle Columbia and the 83rd mission flown since the start of the Space Shuttle program in April 1981.

The crew of mission STS-83 includes: Commander Jim Halsell; Pilot Susan Still; Mission Specialists Janice Voss, Michael Gernhardt and Donald Thomas; and Payload Specialists Roger Crouch and Greg Linteris. Thomas, who suffered a broken ankle following a routine training exercise on Jan. 29, has officially been cleared to fly as planned.

"We are very pleased that Don has been cleared for flight and are confident in his ability to carry out his mission responsibilities," said David C. Leestma, director of Flight Crew Operations.

Cady Coleman, who was training with the STS-83 crew as a backup mission specialist, will return to her previous duties supporting crew habitability activities for the Astronaut Office.

The launch window for STS-83 on April 3 opens at 2:01 p.m. ESTand extends for 2 hours, 30 minutes. Columbia's mission duration is planned for 15 days, 16 hours. The STS-83 mission will conclude with Columbia's landing at Kennedy Space Center, FL, on April 19 at about 7:30 a.m. EDT.


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