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April 25, 1997

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

Kyle Herring
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Release: 97-81

Microgravity Science Laboratory Mission Set For July

Columbia's Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL) mission will fly again in early July to complete the mission cut short earlier this month because of a fuel cell problem. The remaining Space Shuttle flights in 1997 have been adjusted to accommodate Columbia's mission, which will fly as STS-94. Air Force Lt. Col. Jim Halsell and the rest of the STS-83 crew will fly this mission and will conduct proficiency training until the flight.

Space Shuttle Program managers today formally baselined the STS-94 mission to follow Atlantis' sixth docking with the Russian space station Mir next month. Astronaut Jerry Linenger will return home on STS-84 following a four-month stay on Mir, and Mike Foale will replace him as a station crew member. Managers will formally select the launch date following the Flight Readiness Review on April 30.

"While shortening STS-83 was disappointing, we now are in a position to do everything possible to complete the MSL mission with minimal impact to downstream flights," said Space Shuttle Program Manager Tommy Holloway. "Also, it provides us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate our ability to respond to challenges such as this one."

Reflying Columbia in July dictated that downstream flights for the remainder of the year change slightly. Following STS-94, Discovery will fly in early- to mid-August on the STS-85 mission to deploy and retrieve a science satellite to study Earth's atmosphere. The flight also will demonstrate the use and operational capability of a robot arm that will be deployed outside the Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station.

The seventh Shuttle-Mir docking mission on Atlantis is targeted for mid- to late-September. STS-86 will include the return of Foale from Mir and delivery of his replacement, astronaut Wendy Lawrence.

The eighth and final mission scheduled in 1997 will be the STS-87 flight of Columbia slated for mid- to late-November. The 16-day mission includes the conduct of science experiments associated with the fourth flight of the U.S. Microgravity Payload and the deployment and retrieval of a science satellite.


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