Learn about the space mission of the STS-93 under command of the first female commander, Eileen Collins. Also learn about the training of the STS-93 crew in preparation of the mission.
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Learn About the STS93 Space Mission The crew for the 26th flight of the Columbia space shuttle leaves their NASA crew quarters on route to launch pad 39b at the Kennedy Space Center for the commencement of the STS ’93 mission. The primary objective of the mission is to transport the Chandra X-ray Observatory into orbit to join the Hubble space telescope and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. The STS ’93 mission is led by air force Colonel Eileen Collins. She will become the first woman to command the space shuttle mission following two previous flights as pilot. 42-year old Collins flew to the Mir space station on STS ’63 in the first shuttle rendezvous with the Russian Space outpost and revisited Mir during the STS ’84 two years later. Her pilot is navy Captain Jeff Ashby who will be making his first flight into space. Also on board, air force Lieutenant Colonel Catherine Katie Coleman who will be responsible for the deployment of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and this is her second flight into space. Steven A. Hawley who deployed the Hubble space telescope nine years before will be flight engineer during launch and landing and will be responsible for many secondary experiments. This is Hawley’s fifth flight. French air force Colonel Michel Tognini of CNES, the French space agency rounds up the crew. Tognini is making his second trip in space after spending two weeks on the Mir Space Station as a visiting cosmonaut. But what sort of training does this crew been undertaking prior to the launch of mission STS ’93? Prior to the launch the astronauts had undergone rigorous training to familiarize them with important procedures such as the emergency egress routine. Each shuttle has an escape system that allows the crew to safely exit the craft during uncontrolled blooding flight if necessary. Jeff Ashby, the STS ’93 pilot is a graduate of the top gun school for navy test pilots with a record of flying 33 combat missions during operation dessert storm. Katie Coleman with the experience of a 17-day micro gravity flight comes to grips with another unorthodox method of exiting the shuttle. Steve Hawley might be an astronomer but he too, just like the rest of the crew must go through the emergency procedures but with four previous flights to his credit, this is nothing new to Hawley. Michel Tognini and Katie Coleman have scheduled space walks ahead of them and although everything is planned down to the last detail, both Tognini and Coleman attempt to replicate any unforeseen incident. After carefully checking their equipment, they’re plunged into the Johnson Center Pool to simulate their extra vehicular activity. Underwater is a mockup of the orbiter. Each is aware that these are vital safety measures. Also, on the ground, simulators that vary accurately represent the lay-out of the space shuttle and here, Tognini and Hawley on the mid deck of one of the simulators practicing the installation of a second telescope that will be used on a mission. It’s an ultraviolet telescope that will be used to observe some solar system objects through the side hatch window. And of course, there are final checks on Chandra in Columbia’s payload bay. At the time of launch, the X-Ray observatory had the record of being the single heaviest payload at a launch on a shuttle. Other activities will practice in the shuttle simulators such as the ascent going into orbit, reentry and landing. The astronaut spends up to ten hours a week in the simulators which are virtually exact replicas of the Columbia’s space shuttle. Believe it or not, the astronaut still goes to school taking classes for instance and earth observation training. Every mission extensively photographs the earth surface especially specific areas of interest to scientists. A very important part of the training includes being air crew members on the T-38 jet trainers. Many of the same skills used in the space shuttle can be practiced in this air craft such as using checklists, talking on the radi
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