STS-78 (78)

Columbia (20)
Pad 39-B (37)
78th Shuttle Mission
20th Flight OV-102
KSC Landing (31)
Longest Mission to date

NOTE: Click Here for Countdown Homepage


Terence T. Henricks (4), Commander
Kevin R. Kregel (2), Pilot
Susan J. Helms (3), Flight Engineer
Richard M. Linnehan, DVM (1), Mission Specialist
Charles E. Brady, Jr., MD (1), Mission Specialist
Jean-Jacques Favier, PhD (1) (CNES), Payload Specialist
Robert Brent Thirsk, MD (1) (CSA), Payload Specialist

Pedro Duque (0) (ESA), Alternate Payload Specialist
Luca Urbani, MD (0) (ASI), Alternate Payload Specialist


OPF -- 3/9/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 3/09/1996)
CEIT - 5/10/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/13/1996)
VAB -- 5/20/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/21/1996)
PAD -- 5/30/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/30/1996)
TCDT - 6/04/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/04/1996)
FRR -- 6/06/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/06/1996)

(Reference KSC Shuttle Status May 1996)
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status Jun 1996)
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status Jul 1996)



Mission Objectives:

Click here for Press Kit
Click here for Additional Info on STS-78

The scheduled 15-day, 21-hour STS-78 Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS) mission will help set the stage for the International Space Station by studying the effects of long-duration space flight on human physiology and conducting the type of experiments that would fly on the orbital platform. Columbia will climb to a 173-statute-mile (278-kilometer)-high orbit with a 39-degree inclination to the Earth's equator to allow the seven-member flight crew to maintain the same sleep/wake rhythms they are accustomed to on Earth and to reduce vibrational and directional forces that could affect on-board microgravity experiments.

Once in orbit, the crew will enter the 40-foot (13-meter) pressurized Spacelab module to begin the 22 LMS life science and microgravity experiments in the laboratory and in lockers in the middeck area of the orbiter's crew cabin. Thirteen of the life sciences experiments will be devoted to the study of the effects of microgravity on human physiology, while six microgravity experiments will be conducted to produce metallic alloys and protein crystals and study the behavior of fluids and materials processing in the near-weightless environment of space.

The mission's experiments will build on previous Shuttle spacelab
flights dedicated to life sciences and microgravity investigations
(Spacelab Life Sciences 1 and 2 -- STS-40 and STS-58, and International
Microgravity Laboratory 1 and 2 -- STS-42 and STS-65).


Launch June 20, 1996 10:49:00.0075 a.m. EDT. Launch window was 2 hours 30 min. The STS-78 launch countdown was conducted in Firing Room 3 of the Launch Control Complex (LCC) and it included 35 hours 49 minutes of built in holds. (For hold times, Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/18/1996).

On 6/20/96, the payload crew was woken up at 5:39am EDT and the flight crew at 5:54am EDT. The crew had breakfast in the Operations and Checkout Building at 6:25am EDT. At 7:29am EDT, the countdown clock came out of a scheduled two hour hold and was at T-3 hours and counting. At 7:31am EDT, the crew departed the O&C building on their way to Launch Pad 39A. The crew entered Columbia and the hatch was closed out by 9:29am EDT. At 10:19am EDT the countdown clock picked up the T-20 minutes and counting.

On 6/19/96, workers completed closeout of the aft engine compartment and the Master Events Controller (MEC) #1 was retested and no problems were found relating to its critical control functions. The MEC has been cleared for flight. All late access stowage of experiments in the Spacelab module and middeck were completed. The RSS was retracted around 10:30 pm. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/19/1996).

On 6/18/96, the mission management team decided to have the aft main engine compartment reopened and X-ray the Power Drive Units (PDU) for the orbiter's external tank doors. The units were suspected of having possible loose screws in the PDU terminal circuitry boards because of inspections on the orbiterAtlantis PDU's. After the X-rays were developed, it was verified that all suspect screws are secure and properly installed and the aft compartment was closed again for flight. Cryogenic reactant loading into the power reactant storage and distribution system and the extended duration orbiter (EDO) pallet was completed and late access stowage of experiments into the Life and Microgravity Spacelab (SPACELAB-LMS) payload will begin on 6/19/96. KSC area weather forcases indicate a 60 percent probability of good weather on launch day. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/18/1996). (Reference KSC Weather History 06/18/1996 2000). Another issue has arisen concerning the No. 1 Master Events Controller (MEC). During routine testing, engineers noticed incorrect BITE (Built In Test Equipment) indications from the MEC. Further analysis revealed the software errors were not critical to this mission, but managers want to insure the errors are not masking other potential problems that might come to light later in the countdown. There are two MECs in the orbiter's aft engine compartment. They process signals to arm and safe pyrotechnics and command and fire pyrotechnics during SRB / external tank separation and orbiter / external tank separation.

On 6/17/96, the Countdown began at the T-43 hour mark at 4:00am EST. A countdown status briefing was held 9:30am EST and crew arrived at KSC SLF at 3:30pm. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/17/1996).

On 6/3/96, Columbia's crew arrived for the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test. The TCDT is a countdown rehearsal for the crew and launch team at KSC and is conducted prior to each flight. The test ends on 6/4/96 with a simulated main engine shutdown at the pad. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/03/1996).

On 5/29/96, the Shuttle Columbia began moving out of the Vehicle Assembly Building to Pad 39B at around 11:50pm. The shuttle arrived at the pad about 5 hours later. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/29/1996).
On 4/18/96, in OPF Bay 2, the installation of the three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME's) was completed as well as the removal and replacement of the No. 3 TACAN unit used in landing navigation. In the O&C Building, closeouts of the Spacelab Life Sciences LMS Payload were completed. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/18/1996). The LMS payload moved to the Orbiter Processing Facility and was installed in Columbia. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/29/1996) and the tunnel adapter was installed 4/30/96. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/01/1996).

On 3/27/96, in Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) Bay 2, the drag chute was installed on orbiterColumbia and test were started on the Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS). The Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME's) are scheduled to be installed April 15. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 3/27/1996). The nose landing gear wheel and tires were installed on 3/29/96 and
the payload bay was prepared for the Spacelab Life and Microgravity Science Laboratory. Also Tacan No. 1 did not pass functional testing and was removed. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 3/29/1996). In the OPF, Columbia's Windows No. 3 and 4 were polished and in the VAB, stacking of the left Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) on the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP) was underway. A Crew Equipment Interface Test (CEIT) was also being conducted on Spacelab LMS experiments in the Operations and Checkout (O&C) building. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/02/1996). On 4/5/96, leak and functional checks of the LOX side of the MPS was completed and work was done to remove one of the orbiter's S-Band transponders which did not pass testing. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/05/1996)


Altitude: 173 statute miles
Inclination: 39 degrees
Orbits: 271
Duration: 16 days, 21 hours, 48 minutes, 30 seconds.
Distance: 7 million miles


SRB: BI-081
ET : SN-79
SSME-1: SN-2041
SSME-2: SN-2039
SSME-3: SN-2036


KSC July 7, 1996 8:37.30 a.m. EDT. Runway 33. At 7:25 a.m. EDT Columbia was given the go for a deorbit burn on the first KSC Landing opportunity. The burn occured on orbit 271 at 7:37 a.m. EDT and the landing at KSC completed 272 revolutions of the planet. KSC weather at the time of landing was acceptable. Cloud ceilings were at 13,000 and 21,000 ft. (Reference KSC Weather History 07/07/1996 0800). Main Gear Touchdown at Mission Elapsed Time (MET) of 16 days 21 hours 47 min 45 sec. Nose Gear Touchdown at MET 16days 21hours 47min 57sec and Wheels stop at 16days 21hours 48min 30sec.

Two landing opportunities were available Sunday, July 7. The first at 8:37 a.m. EDT and the second at 10:11 a.m. EDT. No landing support was scheduled for Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) California on July 7th and in the event of bad weather at KSC, Columbia would have remained in orbit an additional day. On Monday, two landing opportunities were available at KSC and two at Edwards. KSC Monday landing opportunities were 8:29am EDT and 10:03am EDT. EAFB landing opportunities for Monday were at 9:55am EDT and 11:29am EDT. (Reference KSC Press Release 84-96)

Mission Highlights:

STS-78 Flight Day 1 Highlights:
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Last Updated Friday June 29 11:36:49 EDT 2001
Jim Dumoulin (Redacted)