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April 18, 1997

Debra Rahn
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1639)

Eileen Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Release: 97-74

Commander, Pilot, Flight Engineer Round Out STS-90 Crew

Richard A. Searfoss (Lt. Colonel, USAF) will command a 16-day mission to study the ability of humans to operate in a microgravity environment for an extended period of time. Joining Searfoss on Columbia's flight deck will be Pilot Scott D. Altman (Lt. Commander, USN) and Mission Specialist Kathryn "Kay" Hire. STS-90 is scheduled for a March 1998 launch.

They will join Richard M. Linnehan and Dafydd "Dave" Rhys Williams, MD, (Canadian Space Agency) who were named in August 1996 to support the STS-90 Neurolab mission and two Payload Specialists who will be selected closer to flight.

Searfoss, 40, has flown twice on the Shuttle, as pilot on STS-58 on Shuttle Columbia in 1993 and most recently as pilot on Atlantis' third docking with Russia's Mir space station in March 1996. STS-90 will be Searfoss' first flight as a Shuttle Commander.

Altman and Hire, both 37, are members of the 1995 Astronaut Class, making their first trip to space after completing more than a year of training to prepare for assignment to Shuttle flights and supporting technical assignments within the Astronaut Office.

Four candidates currently are training for selection as prime and backup payload specialist positions on STS-90. Dr. Jay C. Buckey, Dr. Alexander W. Dunlap, Dr. Chiaki Mukai and Dr. James A. Pawelczyk were named in April 1996. Two will fly on the mission, with the remaining two serving as backup or alternate payload specialists ready to fly on the mission if necessary.

Investigations during the Neurolab mission will focus on the effects of microgravity on the nervous system. Specifically, experiments will study the adaptation of the vestibular system and space adaptation syndrome, the adaptation of the central nervous system and the pathways which control the ability to sense location in the absence of gravity, and the effect of microgravity on a developing nervous system.

For complete biographical information on the STS-90 crew, or any astronaut, see the NASA Internet biography home page at URL:


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