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Tue, Jan 21, 2003

Direct> From NASA: Shuttle Updates (digest)

Meet the Astronauts:

STS-107 MCC Status Report #01; Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003 - 10 a.m. CST

Columbia lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center this morning on the first shuttle mission of the year, carrying the first Israeli astronaut into orbit along with six crewmates on a marathon international scientific research flight.

Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie McCool (right), Mission Specialists Dave Brown, Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark, Payload Commander Mike Anderson and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon of the Israel Space Agency blasted off at 9:39 a.m. CST from Launch Pad 39-A. Less than nine minutes later, Columbia settled into an orbit inclined 39 degrees to the equator.

...Aboard Columbia more than 80 experiments dealing with astronaut health and safety, advanced tehnology development and Earth and space sciences.

Husband, Chawla (right), Clark and Ramon comprise the Red team which will work in the pre-dawn and daytime hours, while McCool, Brown and Anderson make up the Blue team, working the evening and overnight hours...

Having shifted their sleep schedule to accommodate the dual-shift operations, McCool, Brown and Anderson (right) will begin an abbreviated six-hour sleep period at 1:39 p.m. CST and will be awakened at 7:39 p.m. while Red team counterparts continue the early stages of experiment activation.

Husband, Chawla, Clark and Ramon will begin an eight-hour sleep period at 8:39 p.m. and will be awakened Friday at 4:39 a.m. to handover work from the Blue team which will be continuing the initial phase of scientific studies overnight...

STS-107 MCC Status Report #02; Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003 – 4:30 p.m. CST

Columbia's crewmembers unstowed equipment and began activation of the Spacehab Research Double Module in the shuttle's cargo bay, setting the stage for 24-hour-a-day science during the shuttle's 16-day research mission...

Spacehab is a pressurized research module 20 feet long, 14 feet wide and 11 feet high. It houses equipment for 59 experiments, three of them mounted on its roof. Its activation marks the beginning of the major science activities of Columbia's mission...

STS-107 MCC Status Report #03; Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 – 5 p.m. CST

In their first full day in orbit, Columbia’s seven crewmembers completed activation of the Spacehab Research Double Module in the shuttle’s cargo bay and all of its scientific experiments...

All Spacehab payloads are performing well and research activities continue on schedule. Specific experiment highlights so far include:

All Fast Reaction Experiments Enabling Science Technology Applications and Research, or FREESTAR, payloads have been activated and are performing well. One Freestar experiment that measures the amount of energy coming from the sun completed an initial observation, with the best sun pointing ever seen on any shuttle flight. Another experiment that will perform measurements of the Earth’s ozone layer is operating nominally. The Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment, or MEIDEX, which will measure small particles called aerosols in the atmosphere over the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Sahara desert, has been readied for initial observations.

The Bioreactor Demonstration System made its initial run. The NASA-developed bioreactor is being used to grow prostate cancer tissues to help scientists better understand how the cancer spreads into bones and to aid in the development of future treatment methods. In the first 20 hours of experiment operations, a significant aggregate of tumor tissue was grown.

The Critical Viscosity of Xenon-2 experiment has been working nominally. The instrument is cooling the xenon sample to begin calibration. A preliminary analysis of the flight data compares favorably with ground-based data. This research in fluid physics may be important to the production of paints, plastics, drugs, food and cosmetics...

STS-107 MCC Status Report #04; Saturday, January 18, 2003 - 5:00 p.m. CST

Space shuttle Columbia's astronauts pointed two Israeli cameras over the Atlantic and the Mediterranean today in search of small dust particles that might impact the weather and began experiments in human life sciences in the third day of the STS-107 scientific research flight.

Specific experiment highlights today included:

  • A radiometric camera and a video camera were aimed at the Atlantic and the Mediterranean as part of the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment. Although no dust was detected due to heavy cloud coverage, initial analysis showed that the two cameras are working well, supplying high-quality images. The cloud patterns imaged by the cameras showed remarkable details. The intent of the experiment is to help researchers better understand how dust particles in the atmosphere affect climate.
  • An experiment that looks at the movement of calcium through the body to further understanding of bone loss in space began. Astronauts took oral calcium tracers that will be monitored over the course of the mission to examine how calcium metabolism changes in an astronaut's body during spaceflight.
  • In the physical sciences, the second run of the Mechanics of Granular Materials was completed. The objective of the experiment is to improve and enhance science and technology in many disciplines including earthquake engineering and soil mechanics. Results may lead to answers concerning the consequences of earthquakes, such as damage to soils and foundations...
STS-107 MCC Status Report #05; Sunday, January 19, 2003 - 4:00 p.m. CST

Columbia's astronauts studied combustion properties and the response of their own bodies in weightlessness and the behavior of soot in space one-quarter of the way through their marathon scientific research mission.

Red Team members Commander Rick Husband, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark (Husband and Clark, right) and Israeli Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon (below) completed the first data collection sessions with the Combustion Module in the Spacehab research module housed in Columbia's cargo bay. One of three experiments housed in the Combustion Module --- the study of Laminer Soot Processes (LSP) --- is designed to gain a better understanding of soot formation, oxidation and radiative properties within flames.

Additional data were gleaned from the Mechanics of Granular Materials experiment (MGM) in the Spacehab module, which is providing information on the behavior of saturated sand when exposed to confining pressures in microgravity. The experiment could provide engineers with valuable data for strengthening buildings against earthquakes.

Work was also accomplished with a series of biomedical experiments studying the human body's response to weightlessness --- particularly dealing with protein manufacturing in the absence of a gravity environment, bone and calcium production, the formation of chemicals associated with renal stones and how saliva and urine change in space relative to any exposure to viruses.

Experiments continued with the MEIDEX cameras in the cargo bay observing dust storms in the Mediterranean region and with the SOLSE experiment, geared to studying the amount of ozone in the Earth's atmosphere by using a special imaging spectrometer in the payload bay to look across the limb of the Earth during specifically scheduled orbits...

Just in: STS-107 MCC Status Report #06; Monday, January 20, 2003 - 6:00 p.m. CST

Columbia's astronauts conducted scientific studies ranging from the behavior of granular materials in weightlessness to the effects of microgravity on fungi, and filmed the sprites associated with thunderstorms across the globe as their scientific research flight continued in its fifth day...

The Red team is working what amounts to the day shift on orbit, while the Blue team --- Pilot Willie McCool, Mission Specialist Dave Brown and Payload Commander Mike Anderson --- is working the overnight shift. The division of the two teams into 12-hour shifts assures that scientific research is conducted round-the-clock...

This afternoon, flight controllers observed a minor electrical current spike in one of two systems designed to collect and distribute water produced from condensation buildup caused by the operation of the cooling system in the Spacehab Research Module in the cargo bay.

An identical system sprung a leak under the floorboards of Spacehab last night and was shut down. The secondary system had been operating normally until the electrical spike was observed at around 1:15 p.m. A plan was implemented to reconfigure a valve in Columbia, allowing cool air from the shuttle to flow into the science module, thus enabling the module's temperatures to remain at a level that will not require the use of Spacehab's cooling system, while preventing any further buildup of condensation. Later, an air duct was routed from Columbia to the Spacehab to increase the flow of cool air into the science facility.

Flight controllers plan to continue their analysis of the Spacehab cooling issue throughout the night, with no impact expected to science operations...

FMI: www.spaceflight.nasa.gov

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