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May 20, 1998

Jennifer McCarter
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1638)

Joel Wells
Kennedy Space Center, FL
(Phone: 407/867-2468)

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

Release: H98-85

Discovery Launch to Mir on Mission Sts-91 Set for June 2

Space Shuttle managers selected June 2 as the official date for the launch of Shuttle Discovery on the ninth planned docking mission with the Russian Space Station Mir.

The flight, designated STS-91, will deliver logistics and supplies to Mir and bring home NASA Astronaut Andrew Thomas, the seventh and final NASA astronaut to serve as a Mir crew member. Thomas has been on the orbiting station since late January.

Discovery will launch from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A. The current launch time of 5:10 p.m. CDT may vary slightly because of calculations of Mir's precise location in space at the time of lift-off due to Shuttle rendezvous phasing requirements. The STS-91 mission is scheduled to last 9 days, 19 hours, 53 minutes. An on-time launch and nominal mission duration would have Discovery landing back at Kennedy on June 12 at 1:03 p.m. CDT

"The nine joint Shuttle-Mir docking missions and the seven astronauts who served as station crew members have provided us with a wealth of insight and experience to be used as we begin construction of the International Space Station later this year," said George Abbey, Director of the Johnson Space Center, who chaired the review.

The launch team is evaluating a minor overboard water leak from the fuel cell No. 3 relief valve to determine its acceptability for flight. The leak was first seen during Monday's super lightweight tank test when the fuel cell was brought on line to support tanking test operations.

The launch date decision follows completion of the Flight Readiness Review at Kennedy by Shuttle managers from NASA and prime contractor United Space Alliance. STS-91 will be Discovery's 24th mission into space and the 91st Space Shuttle flight in the program's history.


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