President Bill Clinton wished the six astronauts orbiting the Earth aboard Columbia a happy Thanksgiving this evening, saluting them for their sacrifice in working during the holiday and congratulating them on Monday’s retrieval of the Spartan satellite.
"Your smiles made my day," the President said from Camp David, where he was celebrating the holiday with his family. "I look forward to seeing you back here on Earth."
Clinton also congratulated Mission Specialists Winston Scott and Takao Doi on their success with tools and techniques being designed for use in building the International Space Station.
"We’ll keep supporting it, you keep doing your job and we’ll see you back here," Clinton said.
Kregel and the crew wished the President and his family a happy holiday, and reported that they felt great. "Of course we miss our families down on Earth, but the six of us up here are a family in itself and we’re enjoying this Thanksgiving Day also," Kregel said.
The presidential call came as the crew as preparing to go on duty for their ninth flight day, continuing work with the microgravity science investigations in a special glovebox facility on the middeck.
Mission Specialist Kalpana Chalwa began her day by activating the Wetting Characteristics of Immiscibles experiment, and receive help from Doi in conducting the experiment runs. Scientists hope to learn how to better control the formation of special metal alloys by studying the mixing process in microgravity. The alloys are important for use in ball bearings, electronics and semiconductors. Previous experiments have shown that these alloys, which contain components that don’t mix when the metals are in a liquid state, separate into layers even when gravity is not present. WCI will investigate whether droplet wetting along the container walls is the cause of this stratification.
Scott and Doi are scheduled to fill out a questionnaire on how the space walk went later today while the details are still fresh in their minds.
Scott also is scheduled to put on a special vest called the In-Suit Doppler System that uses ultrasound to listen for microbubbles in the bloodstream. The vest, destined to be worn on a future space walk, is being checked for fit and comfort. Astronauts now lower the shuttle’s cabin pressure and pre-breathe pure oxygen before a space walk to purge nitrogen bubbles from their bloodstreams and prevent decompression sickness, or "the bends." Doctors would expect these conditions to result in some instances of the bends on Earth, but so far have seen none on orbit. They hope this vest will tell them why.
Also on the middeck, Payload Specialist Leonid Kadenyuk will continue his work with the plant growth experiment called CUE for the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment. School students both in the U.S. and the Ukraine also are participating in comparative plant growth studies here on Earth.
Kregel and Kadenyuk are scheduled to receive a call from President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma in Kieve at 5:48 a.m. CST Friday.
The STS-87 crew was awakened on Thanksgiving Day at 3:45 p.m. CST by the sounds of "America the Beautiful" as sung by the U.S. Air Force Cadet Chorale.
The autonomous operations with the United States Microgravity Payload-4 are continuing in the payload bay, and Columbia’s systems were all functioning well as it orbited 175 miles above the planet’s surface.
The next mission status report will be issued at about 6 a.m. Friday.
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