STS-81 (81)

Atlantis (18)
Pad 39-B (39)
81st Shuttle Mission
18th Flight OV-104
5th Mir docking
Night Launch (16)
KSC Landing (34)

NOTE: Click Here for Countdown Homepage


Michael A. Baker (4), Mission Commander
Brent W. Jett (2), Jr, Pilot
John M. Grunsfeld (2), Mission Specialist
Marsha S. Ivins (4), Mission Specialist
Peter J.K. Wisoff (3), Mission Specialist
Jerry M. Linenger (2), Mission Specialist

download from Mir
John E. Blaha (5)
NOTE: Jerry M. Linenger (Mir 22-23 / STS-81) will stay aboard Mir until
being replaced by C. Michael Foale. He will return on STS-84.


OPF-3 - 9/26/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 09/26/1996)
VAB -- 12/05/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 12/05/1996)
PAD -- 12/10/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 12/09/1996)
TCDT -- 12/17/96 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 12/17/1996)
FRR -- 01/06/97 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 01/07/1997)
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status Nov 1996)
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status Dec 1996)
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status Jan 1997)


Mir-Docking/5, SpaceHab-DM, SAREX-II, KIDSAT, TVIS, Biorack, CREAM, OSVS, MSX

Mission Objectives:

Click here for Press Kit
Click here for Additional Info on STS-81

STS-81 is the fifth of nine planned missions to Mir and the second one involving an exchange of U.S. astronauts. Astronaut John Blaha, who has been on Mir since September 19, 1996, will be replaced by astronaut Jerry Linenger. Linenger will spend more than four months on Mir. He will return to Earth on Space Shuttle Mission STS-84, scheduled for launch in May 1997.

Atlantis will carry the SPACEHAB double module providing additional middeck locker space for secondary experiments. During the five days of docked operations with Mir, the crews will transfer water and supplies from one spacecraft to the other. A spacewalk by Linenger and one of his Russian cosmonaut crewmates will be after Atlantis departs.

The STS-81 mission also will include several experiments in the fields of advanced technology, Earth sciences, fundamental biology, human life sciences, microgravity, and space sciences. Data also will supply insight for the planning and development of the International Space Station, Earth-based sciences of human and biological processes, and the advancement of commercial technology.

STS-81 will involve the transfer of 5,975 pounds of logistics to and from the Mir, the largest transfer of items to date. During the docked phase, 1,400 pounds of water, 1,137.7 pounds of U.S. science equipment, 2,206.1 pounds of Russian logistics along with 268.2 pounds of miscellaneous material will be transferred to Mir. Returning to Earth aboard Atlantis will be 1,256.6 pounds of U.S. science material, 891.8 pounds of Russian logistics and 214.6 pounds of miscellaneous material.


Launch 1/12/97 4:27:23.042 am EST. The launch window was 7-10 minutes. The exact launch time was announced about 90 minutes prior to launch following final computation of the location of the Mir Space Station. The RSRM propellant mean bulk temperature (PMBT) was 62 degrees F at liftoff. The Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB's) were successfully seperated from the External Tank (ET) at T+125.723sec. Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) cutoff occured at 511.8 sec.
On 1/10/97, Pad 39-B was cleared to load the onboard cryogenic tanks and reactant loading was completed on schedule by mid-morning. The launch team evaluated a problem with the hazardous gas detection system on the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP). The system, used to detect the levels of gaseous oxygen, hydrogen, helium and argon on the shuttle was giving erratic data. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 1/10/1997)

On 1/7/97, ordnance operations and pressurization of the Reaction Control System (RCS) were completed. Final stowage of experiments in the SPACEHAB were underway. The STS-81 crew arrived at the Shuttle Landing Facility at 10p.m. on 1/8/97 and the countdown clock picked up at the T-43 hour mark on schedule on Thursday, 1/9/97 at 7 a.m. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 1/09/1997)

On 1/3/97, All Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) functional tests were complete. The payload bay doors were open and payload operation close-outs continued. Functional tests on Atlantis's C-hatch (EVA hatch) were completed and the hatch closed for flight. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 1/03/1997)

On 12/17/96, The STS-81 crew successfully completed the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test and returned to their homes in Houston. Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) calibrations were also completed and the pad was closed for normal access as work began on the loading of hypergolic propellants into Atlantis. Once the pad is opened again, efforts will resume to complete the installation and functional checks of the newly reworked airlock hatch actuators that failed on STS-80. All actuators will be installed by 12/21/96 and functional checks completed by 12/24/96. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 12/18/1996)

On 11/22/96, the new replacement fuel cell No. 2 has been installed and interface connections and testing will be conducted 11/23/96. The payload bay doors are scheduled to be closed as early as Monday night. External tank and solid rocket booster close-outs continue in the Vehicle Assembly Building. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 11/22/1996)

On 11/20/96, removal of fuel cell No. 1 was complete. Due to concerns with marginal pH levels, managers have decided to remove and replace fuel cell No. 2, as well. Today, managers are determining if this work can be done with the SPACEHAB tunnel adapter in place or if the tunnel must be removed. (>Reference KSC Shuttle Status 11/20/1996)

On 10/11/96, APU installation was complete. Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod functional checkout and fuel cell voltage tests were in work. Close outs continued on the mated left aft and left forward center segments of STS-81's SRB stack in VAB hi-bay 1. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 10/11/1996)


Altitude: 184 statute miles
Inclination: 51.60
Orbits: 160
Duration: 10 days, 4 hours, 56 minutes, 30 seconds.
Distance: 4.1 Million statute miles


SRB: BI-082
SRM: 360T054A(Left),360T054B(Right)
ET : ET-83
SSME-1: SN-2041 (Block I)
SSME-2: SN-2034 (Phase II)
SSME-3: SN-2042 (Block I)


KSC 1/22/97 9:23am EST. Landing at KSC Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) Runway 33. Main gear touchdown at 9:22:44 EST (MET 10days 4hr 55min 21sec). Nose gear touchdown at 9:22:55 (MET 10days 4hours 55min 32sec) and Wheel Stop at 9:23:50. (MET 10days 4hours 56min 30sec).

There were two landing opportunities for Atlantis on 1/22/97 at the Kennedy Space Center. KSC's 1st opportunity would have required a deorbit burn at 5:42 a.m. CST with a landing at a 6:47 a.m. landing on runway 3-3 but that opportunity was waived off due to weather. KSC's 2nd opportunity was selected and a 3.5 min deorbit burn occured at 8:17am EST on orbit 160.

Mission Highlights:

STS-81 Flight Day 1 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 2 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 3 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 4 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 5 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 6 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 7 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 8 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 9 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 10 Highlights:
STS-81 Flight Day 11 Highlights:

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Last Updated Friday June 29 11:36:57 EDT 2001
Jim Dumoulin (Redacted)