STS-93 (95)

Columbia (26)
Pad 39-B (44)
94th Shuttle Mission
26th Flight OV-102
Night Launch (22)
KSC Landing (48)
1st Female Shuttle Commander

NOTE: Click Here for Countdown Homepage


Eileen M. Collins (3), Mission Commander
Jeffrey S. Ashby (1), Pilot
Steven A. Hawley (5), Mission Specialist
Catherine G. Coleman (2), Mission Specialist
Michel Tognini (CNES) (2), Mission Specialist


OPF --
VAB -- 02/1/99 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 12/11/1998)
PAD -- 06/07/99 (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/08/1999)



Mission Objectives:

Click here for Additional Info on STS-93

The primary objective of the STS-93 mission is to deploy the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility. AXAF is the most sophisticated X-ray observatory ever built. It is is designed to observe X-rays from high energy regions of the universe, such as hot gas in the remnants of exploded stars. This facility was recently renamed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel Laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. "Chandra" also means "Moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit.

The Observatory has three major parts: (1) the X-ray telescope, whose mirrors will focus X-rays from celestial objects; (2)the science instruments which record the X-rays so that X-ray images can be produced and analyzed; and (3) the spacecraft, which provides the environment necessary for the telescope and the instruments to work.

Other payloads on STS-93 are the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX), Shuttle Ionospheric Modification with Pulsed Local Exhaust (SIMPLEX), Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System (SWUIS), Gelation of Sols: Applied Microgravity Research (GOSAMR), Space Tissue Loss - B (STL-B), Light Weight Flexible Solar Array Hinge (LFSAH), Cell Culture Module (CCM), and the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment - II (SAREX - II), EarthKam, Plant Growth Investigations in Microgravity (PGIM), Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA), Micro-Electrical Mechanical System (MEMS), and the Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC).

The Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) payload will require orbiter thruster firings to be used as a sensor calibration and evaluation target for the space-based ultraviolet, infrared, and visible sensors on the MSX satellite. The satellite will be in an approximately 560 nautical mile, 99 degree inclination orbit.

The objective of Shuttle Ionespheric Modification with Pulsed Local Exhaust (SIMPLEX) payload activity is to determine the source of Very High Frequency (VHF) radar echoes caused by the orbiter and its OMS engine firings. The Principal Investigator (PI) will use the collected data to examine the effects of orbital kinetic energy on ionospheric irregularities and to understand the processes that take place with the venting of exhaust materials.

The Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging system (SWUIS) is based around a Maksutov-design Ultraviolet (UV) telescope and a UV-sensitive, image-intensified Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) camera that frames at video frame rates. Scientists can obtain sensitive photometric measurements of astronomical targets.

The objective Gelation of Sols: Applied Microgravity Research (GOSAMR) experiment is to investigate the influence of microgravity on the processing of gelled sols. In particular, the purpose is to demonstrate that composite ceramic precursors composed of large particulates and small colloidal sols can be produced in space with more structural uniformity. It will also show that this improved uniformity will result in finer matrix grain sizes and superior physical properties.

The focus of Space Tissue Loss - B (STL-B) is direct video observation of cells in culture through the use of a video microscope imaging system with the objective of demonstrating near real-time interactive operations to detect and induce cellular responses.

The Light Weight Flexible Solar Array Hinge (LFSAH) payload consists of several hinges fabricated from shape memory alloys. Shape memory deployment hinges offer controlled shockless deployment of solar arrays and other spacecraft appendages. LFSAH demonstrates this deployment capability for a number of hinge configurations.

The objectives of the Cell Culture Module (CCM) are to validate models for muscle, bone, and endothelial cell biochemical and functional loss induced by microgravity stress; to evaluate cytoskeleton, metabolism, membrane integrity and protease activity in target cells; and to test tissue loss pharmaceuticals for efficacy.

The Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX-II) demonstrates the feasibility of amateur short-wave radio contacts between the shuttle and ground-based amateur radio operators. SAREX also serves as an educational opportunity for schools around the world to learn about space by speaking directly to astronauts aboard the shuttle via ham radio.

The EarthKAM payload will conduct Earth observations using the Electronic Still Camera (ESC) installed in the overhead starboard window of the Aft Flight Deck.

The Plant Growth Investigations in Microgravity (PGIM) payload experiment will use plants to monitor the space flight environment for stressful conditions that affect plant growth. Because plants cannot move away from stressful conditions, they have developed mechanisms that monitor their environment and direct effective physiological responses to harmful conditions.

The Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA) payload hardware allows for sample processing and stowage functions. The Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus - Isothermal Containment Module (GBA-ICM) is temperature controlled to maintain a preset temperature environment, controls the activation and termination of the experiment samples, and provides an interface for crew interaction, control and data transfer.

The Micro-Electrical Mechanical System (MEMS) payload examines the performance, under launch, microgravity, and reentry conditions of a suite of MEMS devices. These devices include accelerometers, gyros, and environmental and chemical sensors. The MEMS payload is self-contained and requires activation and deactivation only.

The Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) payload was designed to investigate the effects of space flight on small arthropod animals and plant specimens. The flight crew will be available at regular intervals to monitor and control payload/experiment operations.


July 23, 1999 12:31 a.m. EDT. Launch window was 1 hour 56 minute.

On Thursday, July 22, 1999 at 8:19 p.m. EDT the ice inspection team has finished inspecting the launch pad. At 9:05 a.m. EDT, the countdown clock picked up at the T-minus 3 hour mark. At 9:09 a.m. the crew exited the Operations and Checkout Building and departed for the launch pad. At 10:20pm EDT all crew members were seated for flight. At 10:30pm Columbias hatch was closed but one of the latches did not latch properly. The hatch was reopened and checks. At 10:53 p.m. EDT, the hatch was closed and leak checks performed. At 11:18 p.m. EDT a go was given to close out the white room and move the team back to the fall back area. At 12:15 a.m. EDT the mission management team in Firing Room 1 did a final poll of the launch team and all systems were go for launch. At 12:22am the countdown clock came out of the hold at the T-minus 9 minute mark. The countdown proceeded smoothly with liftoff occuring at 12:31 a.m. EDT

On Thursday, July 22, 1999 at 3:15p.m. EDT fuel and oxidizer began flowing into Columbia's external tank. The process was completed shortly after 6 p.m. EDT. The countdown clock entered the hold at the T-minus 3 hour mark and was scheduled to resume the countdown at 9:04 p.m. EDT. At 7:19 p.m. the crew was awakened and seated for breakfast by 7:50 p.m. Departure from the Operations and Checkout Building is slated for 9:09 p.m.

On Thursday, July 22, 1999 at 12:34am EDT, weather officers identified weather constraints to launch. A storm cell in the area produced lightning strikes within 8.5 miles of the launch pad. Shuttle launch weather criteria requires lightning producing storms to be no closer than 20 nautical miles from the launch site. The countdown clock was held at the T-minus 5 minute mark pending a weather clearance. Thunder storms did not move out of the area in time for a launch attempt so the launch was scrubbed at 1:20 a.m. EDT.

On Wednesday, July 21, 1999 at 10:01pm EDT, the hatch on Columbia was closed in preparation for an on schedule launch at 12:28pm EDT.

On Wednesday, July 21, 1999 at 8:43pm EDT, the crew departed the O&C Building on the way to Launch Pad 39-B.

On Wednesday, July 21, 1999 at 3:30pm EDT, the launch countdown clock was preparing to go out of the hold at the T-minus 6 hour mark. The mission management team has given a go to start tanking operations.

On Wednesday, July 21, 1999, The KSC launch team continues the smooth implementation of Shuttle Columbia's 48-hour launch scrub turnaround in preparation for Thursday's 12:28 a.m. launch attempt. The countdown clock began counting again today at 8:38 a.m. at the T-11 hour mark. Replacement of the external hydrogen burn-off ignitors at Launch Pad 39B concluded early this morning. In Firing Room No. 1, standard preflight monitoring of the Shuttle confirms that all systems are in good health and that Columbia's main propulsion system and hazardous gas detection system are ready to support launch just after midnight tonight.
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/18/1999)

On Tuesday, July 20 1999, the countdown proceeded to just seconds before launch (T-minus 8 seconds mark) when the a member of the launch team detected a spike in one of the sensors detecting the concentration of hydrogen in the shuttle aft engine compartment. A cutoff was called and the ground launch sequencer (GLS) entered into a RSLS (Redundant Sequence Launch Sequence) cutoff. The cutoff occured just prior to the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) start at the T-minus 6 seconds mark. The launch team is still investigating but the most likely problem is a sensor problem that would lead to a 48 hour scrub turnaround. A new launch date is set for July 22, 1999 at 12:28 a.m. EDT.
On Monday, July 1999 at 11:44 EDT at the T-minus 14 minutes and counting, Mission commander Eileen Collins reported a problem with a higher temp than expected in avionics bay #1. The launch team called a Launch Commit Criteria (LCC) violation to allow time for the problem to be investigated while continuing to count down to the hold at the T-minus 9 minute mark. After an investigation, the mission management team gave a final go for launch.

On Monday, July 19, 1999, with the countdown clock at the T-minus 1 hour 34 minute mark, all of Columbia's crew were strapped into their seats. At 10:19 p.m. EDT air to ground voice checks were conducted and the white room launch team prepared the orbiter for final closeouts. At 10:34 p.m. EDT, the hatch was closed and locked for flight.
On Monday, July 19, 1999 at 3:46 p.m. EDT the countdown exited the hold at the T-minus 6 hour mark and began flowing 528,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into Columbia's external tank. The fueling process takes approximately three hours. At 8:30 a.m., after eating breakfast in the Operations and Checkout building, the crew donned their launch and entry suits and had a weather briefing. At 8:51 p.m. EDT, the crew departed for the launch pad LC-39B.
On Monday, July 19, 1999 at 1:30 a.m. EDT, it was discovered that the Cell Culture Module (CCM) experiment was not functioning properly after installation into Columbia's middeck. The unit was returned to an off line laboratory for troubleshooting and was reinstalled in the orbiter at 7 a.m. EDT. The unit was unable to be repaired. Also monday morning, while launch pad technicians were preparing Columbia's main windows for launch, they discovered some metal shavings between Window No. 1's internal pane and external pane. The launch team examined the situation and determined it would not be a constraint for launch.

On Sunday, July 18, 1999, loading of the on-board cryogenics was concluded earlier in the morning, and off-loading of the extra cryogenics not needed for use in the orbiter's fuel cells during the mission continued until early afternoon. Following this, the orbiter mid-body umbilical unit was retracted and final pre-launch preparations of the three Shuttle main engines completed. The three-hour operation to load the external tank with 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen will begin at about 3:46 p.m. Monday. Following this operation, the crew will be awakened at about 7 p.m., they will be seated for their pre-launch meal at 7:30 p.m., and depart for Launch Pad 39B at 8:51 p.m. Weather forecasters continue to indicate a 30 percent probability that weather could prohibit Tuesday's launch attempt. The single concern is for a chance of coastal showers. The forecast calls for clouds to be scattered at 3,000 and 25,000 feet; visibility at 7 miles; winds out of the east at 8 knots peaking to 12 knots; temperature at 80 degrees F and humidity 86 percent. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/18/1999)

On Friday, July 16, 1999, preparation for the launch of Shuttle Columbia on July 20 continues on schedule at Launch Pad 39B. Workers have completed orbiter aft compartment close-outs and are preparing to pickup the launch countdown tonight at 10 p.m. Payload close-outs are in work in preparation for tomorrow's payload bay door closure. Flight crew equipment stowage is on going. The five-member STS-93 flight crew arrived at KSC today at about 7 a.m. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/16/1999)

On Monday, July 12, 1999 Truck No. 1 on the Rotating Service Structure at Launch Pad 39B, has been repaired and is ready to support standard prelaunch activities. Last Friday, engineers completed a simulated countdown test for the payload's inertial upper stage and workers conducted routine voltage tests as well. Columbia's aft compartment closeouts are in work this week. Flight crew equipment early stow occurs tomorrow along with preparations for ordnance installation. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/12/1999)

On Thursday, July 8, 1999, after the Flight Readiness Review, Shuttle managers announced July 20 as the official launch date for STS-93. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/12/1999)

On Wednesday, July 7, 1999 at Launch Pad 39B, preparations continue for Shuttle Columbia's target launch date of July 20. This week, technicians completed installation of the orbiter's mass memory unit No. 1 and pressurization of auxiliary power unit No. 2. Workers also completed the flight readiness test for the Chandra X-ray Observatory payload. Later this week, the IUS flight batteries will be installed. Tomorrow morning, Shuttle managers will assemble at KSC to conduct the STS-93 Flight Readiness Review. An official launch date is expected to be announced at the conclusion of the meeting. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/07/1999)

On Sunday, June 27, 1999, the Chandra/IUS payload was transferred into Columbia's payload bay. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/28/1999)

On Thursday, June 24, 1999, the Chandra/IUS payload arrived at Launch Pad 39B at about 3 a.m. and transfer into the Payload Changeout Room (PCR) began at about 6 a.m. Managers are now targeting Sunday for payload installation into Shuttle Columbia's payload bay. Later today, workers begin calibrating the orbiter's inertial measurement units and will conduct leak checks on the orbiter midbody umbilical unit. The Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test concluded today with the five-member flight crew participating in a launch day dress rehearsal. After a simulated main engine cutoff at 1 p.m., crew members practiced emergency egress procedures from Columbia's crew module. The astronauts will return to Houston, TX later today and resume their final preflight training. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/24/1999)

On Monday, June 7, 1999 Columbia rolled out to Pad 39B at about 2 a.m. and was hard down at Launch Pad 39B at about 10 a.m. Launch pad validations were in work thru the evening. Auxiliary power unit hot fire testing and main engine tests were also scheduled. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/08/1999)

On Friday, June 4, 1999, Columbia is hardmated to the external tank and solid rocket booster stack in VAB high bay 1 today. Tomorrow, the Shuttle Interface Test will conclude and over the weekend workers will prepare for Monday's Shuttle roll out to Launch Pad 39B. The Chandra X-ray Observatory and Inertial Upper Stage are undergoing interface verification testing today. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 6/04/1999)

On Wednesday, May 19, 1999, the STS-93 solid rocket boosters and external tank moved from the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP) refurbishment site to a temporary lightning protection area on the east side of the VAB. When VAB high bay 1 becomes available, the STS-93 stack will move inside the VAB to continue processing for its planned July launch. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/19/1999)

On Saturday, May 15, 1999, KSC workers made the necessary flight hardware moves to accommodate this week's repair work on Shuttle Discovery's external tank. On Saturday, the STS-93 solid rocket boosters and external tank were rolled out of VAB high bay 1 and now temporarily reside at the Mobile Launcher Platform refurbishment site east of the VAB and will remain there as long as weather permits. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/17/1999)

On Thursday, May 6, 1999, Payload bay radiator inspections concluded yesterday. Final inspection of Columbia's thermal protection system is under way and auxiliary power unit lubrication oil servicing resumes tomorrow. Tomorrow, Columbia's drag chute door will be installed. The orbiter's nose and main landing gear is slated for installation next week. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 5/7/1999)

On Tuesday, April 20, 1999, Columbia is powered up in OPF bay 1. Orbiter mass memory unit loadingis complete and workers opened the payload bay doors last night. Orbiter processing for mission STS-93 resumes following routine OPF receiving inspections. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/20/1999)

On Thursday, March 18, 1999 Columbia is jacked and leveled in VAB high bay 2 undergoing routine system observation during a temporary storage period. Columbia will remain in the VAB until mid-April, when Shuttle Discovery rolls out of OPF bay 1.Columbia will then be transferred to OPF bay 1 to complete STS-93's orbiter pre-launch preparations. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 3/18/1999)

On Wednesday, January 20, 1999 NASA announced that it will delay the planned shipment of the Chandra X-ray Observatory from prime contractor TRW Space and Electronics Group, Redondo Beach, CA, to NASA's Kennedy Space Center., FL. The postponement will allow TRW to evaluate and correct a potential problem with several printed circuit boards in the observatory's command and data management system. This will result in approximately a five-week slip in the observatory's launch readiness date, which will allow for integration and testing of the units at Kennedy. If boards in the remote units must also be replaced, a more extensive slip is anticipated. (Reference NASA Press Release N99-4)

On Monday, January 11, 1999 Columbia's forward and midbody compartment closeouts continue. Technicians will cycle the left-hand payload bay door today to check recently replaced seals. Managers plan to close the orbiter's payload bay doors Friday in preparation for an early February transfer to the Vehicle Assembly Building. Leak checks on two of the orbiter's hypergolic line disconnects are in work today and this week Ku-band system stowage is scheduled. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 1/11/1999)

On Monday, December 21, 1998, Columbia's payload bay doors were closed for the holiday down period. In the Vehicle Assembly Building, external tank and solid rocket boosters are in high bay 1 and closeouts will resume after the holidays. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 12/22/1998)

On Friday, December 11, 1998, leak tests of Columbia's crew compartment were complete. Shimming of the orbiter's payload bay aft bulkhead continued. The routine modification ensures proper payload bay door closure. Auxiliary power unit No. 2 fuel tank pressurization was performed. In the Vehicle Assembly Building, external tank and solid rocket booster closeouts continued. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 12/11/1998)

On Thursday, October 15, 1998 Columbia's main engine installation begins and engine heat shield installation follows in two weeks. The AXAF payload is now expected to arrive at KSC in early January and the payload premate test will move accordingly to mid-November. Shuttle managers are reviewing the possible impact to the STS-93 major milestones. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 10/14/1998)
On Monday, July 6, 1998, Corrosion repair of Columbia's external tank umbilical doors continues. Workers are servicing the coolant loops for the orbiter's three fuel cells. Replacement of water spray boiler No. 3 is in progress. Auxiliary power units No. 1 and No. 3 will be installed beginning Thursday.
(Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/06/1998)


Altitude: 153 nm
Inclination: 28.4
Orbits: 80
Duration: 4 days, 22 hours, 50 minutes, 18 seconds.
Distance: 1,796,000 miles


ET : SN-99
SSME-1: SN-2012
SSME-2: SN-2031
SSME-3: SN-2019


KSC July 27, 1999 11:20 p.m. EDT

Columbia landed at KSC's SLF on time at 11:20:30 pm EDT.

Main gear touchdown occured at 11:20:35 pm EDT at a mission elapsed time (MET) of 4 days, 22 hours 49 min 35 seconds. Nose Wheel Touchdown occured at at 11:20:45 pm EDT (4 days, 22 hours, 49 minutes, 45 seconds) and wheel stop at 11:21:18pm EDT. (4 days, 22 hours, 50 minutes 18 seconds).

At 10:49pm EDT, Columbia began to experience the effects of Earth's atmosphere.

At 10:19pm EDT the crew of Columbia had the deorbit burn to bring the crew down for an on time landing at 11:20 p.m. The shuttle is scheduled to land on Runway 33 at KSC's SLF.

Columbia's landing at Kennedy Space Center.will be the 12th night landing in the Shuttle program's history. Five of those have been at Edwards Air Force Base in California and the rest have been at KSC. There have been 19 consecutive landings at KSC and 25 of the last 26 have been there.

Mission Highlights:

STS-93 Flight Day 1 Highlights:
STS-93 Flight Day 2 Highlights:
STS-93 Flight Day 3 Highlights:
STS-93 Flight Day 4 Highlights:
STS-93 Flight Day 5 Highlights:

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Last Updated Friday June 29 11:37:08 EDT 2001
Jim Dumoulin (Redacted)