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January 7, 1997

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

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

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

Release: N97-1

NASA Managers Set January 12 as Launch Date for First Shuttle Mission of 1997

Following completion of a flight readiness review meeting, NASA managers set January 12 as the official launch date for the first Shuttle mission of 1997.

The mission, designated STS-81, is the fifth in a series of docking missions between the Space Shuttle and the Russian space station Mir and the second mission involving an exchange of U.S. astronauts. Astronaut John Blaha, who has been on Mir since Sept. 19, 1996, will be replaced by STS-81 crew member Jerry Linenger. Linenger will spend more than four months on Mir before returning to Earth on Space Shuttle Mission STS-84 in mid-May.

The current launch window on Jan. 12 opens at 4:27 a.m. EST and extends for about ten minutes. The actual launch window may vary by a few minutes based on calculations of Mir's precise location in space at the time of liftoff due to Shuttle rendezvous phasing requirements.

The STS-81 mission is scheduled to last just over ten days. An on-time launch on Jan. 12 and nominal mission duration will result in Atlantis landing back at Kennedy Space Center, FL, on Jan. 22 at approximately 8 a.m. EST.


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