STS-83 (83)

Columbia (22)
Pad 39-A (60)
83rd Shuttle Mission
22nd Flight OV-102
KSC Landing (36)


James D. Halsell (3), Mission Commander
Susan L. Still (1), Pilot
Janice E. Voss (3), Payload Commander
Donald A. Thomas (3), Mission Specialist
Michael L. Gernhardt (2), Mission Specialist
Roger Crouch (1), Payload Specialist
Greg Linteris (1), Payload Specialist


OPF-1 -- 12/07/96
VAB -- 03/05/97
PAD -- 03/11/97
TCDT -- 03/13/97



Mission Objectives:

The primary payload on STS-83 is the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL). MSL is a collection of microgravity experiments housed inside a European Spacelab Long Module (LM). It builds on the cooperative and scientific foundation of the International Microgravity Laboratory missions (IML-1 on STS-42 and IML-2 on STS-65), the United States Microgravity Laboratory missions (USML-1 on STS-50 and USML-2 on STS-73), the Japanese Spacelab mission (Spacelab-J on STS-47), the Spacelab Life and Microgravity Science Mission (LMS on STS-78) and the German Spacelab missions (D-1 on STS 61-A and D-2 on STS-55).

MSL features 19 materials science investigations in 4 major facilities. These facilities are the Large Isothermal Furnace, the EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to the Space Station (EXPRESS) Rack, the Electromagnetic Containerless Processing Facility (TEMPUS) and the Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures (CSLM) facility, the Droplet Combustion Experiment (DCE) and the Combustion Module-1 Facility. Additional technology experiments will also be performed in the Middeck Glovebox (MGBX) developed by the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and the High-Packed Digital Television (HI-PAC DTV) system will be used to provide multi-channel real-time analog science video.

The Large Isothermal Furnace was developed by the Japanese Space Agency (NASDA) for the STS-47 Spacelab-J mission and was also flown on STS-65 IML-2 mission. It will house the Measurement of Diffusion Coefficient by Shear Cell Method Experiment, the Diffusion of Liquid Metals and Alloys Experiment, the Diffusion in Liquid Led-Tin-Telluride Experiment, the Impurity Diffusion in Ionic Melts Experiment, the Liquid Phase Sintering II Experiment (LIF), and the Diffusion Processes in Molten Semiconductors Experiment (DPIMS).

The Combustion Module-1 (CM-1) facility from the NASA Lewis Research Center houses experiments on Laminar Soot Processes Experiment and the Structure of Flame Balls at Low Lewis-number Experiment SOFTBALL).

The Droplet Combustion Experiment (DCE) is designed to investigate the fundamental combustion aspects of single, isolated droplets under different pressures and ambient oxygen concentrations for a range of droplet sizes varying between 2 and 5mm. The DCE apparatus is integrated into a single width MSL Spacelab rack in the cargo bay.

The EXPRESS rack replaces a Spacelab Double rack and special hardware will provide the same structural and resource connections the rack will have on the Space Station. It will house the Physics of Hard Spheres (PHaSE) experiment and the Astro/PGBA Experiment.

The Electromagnetic Containerless Processing Facility (TEMPUS) is used for the Experiments on Nucleation in Different Flow Regimes, Thermophysical Properities of Advanced Materials in the Undercooled Liquid State Experiment, Measurements of the Surface Tension of Liquid and Undercooled Metallic Alloys by Oscillating Drop Technique Experiment, Alloy Undercooling Experiments, the Study of the Morphological Stability of Growing Dendrites by Comparative Dendrite Velocity Measuremetns on Pure Ni and Dilute Ni-C Alloy in the Earth and Space Laboratory Experiment, the Undercooled Melts of Alloys with Polytetrahedral Short-Range Order Experiment, the Thermal Expansion of Glass Forming Metallic Alloys in the Undercooled State Experiment, the AC Calorimetry and Thermophysical Properties of Bulk Glass-Forming Metallic Liquids experiment and the Measurement of Surface Tension and Viscosity of Undercooled Liquid Metals experiment.

There will also be experiments on measuring microgravity. They include the Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS), the Microgravity Measurement Assembly (MMA), the Quasi-Steady Acceleration Measurement System and the Orbital Acceleration Research Experiment (OARE).

The Middeck Glovebox (MGBX) facility will support the Bubble and Drop Nonlinear Dynamics (BDND) Experiment, the Study of the Fundamental Operation of a Capillary-driven Heat Transfer (CHT) Device in Microgravity Experiment, the Internal Flows in a Free Drop (IFFD) experiment and the Fiber Supported Droplet Combustion experiment (FSDC-2).


Launch April 4, 1997 2:20:32.074 pm EST. Launch window was 2 hours 30 min.

At 1:32pm EST, the countdown clock came out of the hold at the T-20 minute mark and the OMS/RCS crossfeed valves and MPS Helium system were configured for flight. The GPC computers were dumped and their contents verified to be in flight configuration. At 1:41pm EST, the countdown clock entered the hold at the T-9 minute mark. The hold at T-9 minutes will be extended to give the white room crew additional time to clear the pad due to the need to replace a seal on the crew hatch and perform the cabin leak test. At 1:53pm EST the white room crew cleared the pad. At 2:05pm EST, the close out crew made it back to the launch control center area and the launch team was polled to determine if all stations were ready to come out of the T-9 minute hold. All stations except position SPE gave a clear to launch. The only concern was an excess concentration of O2 in the shuttle midbody. The gaseous purge was modified and the concentrations decreased. At 2:11pm the launch team was polled again and there were no constraints to launch. The count picked back up at T-9 minute mark at 2:12pm. The sound supression water system was armed at 2:20pm at the T-1 minute mark with a T-0 at 2:21pm EST. SRB seperation at 2:23pm 43 miles east of KSC. SSME Cutoff at 2:30pm EST with Columbia traveling at 15,500mph and 720 miles east of KSC. External Tank separation occured at 2:30pm EST.

At the T-3 hour mark, the launch final inspection team was at the pad doing a final walkdown. The inspection team is at the launch pad for about 2 hours and looks for any ice buildup on the external tank and any debris that could impact the orbiter at liftoff. The white room crew began their initial preparations with an estimated hatch closure time of 12:30pm. The flight crew ate breakfast in the crew quarters of the Operations and Checkout Building and at 10:30am EST, they donned their flight suits. The countdown clock came out of the T-3 hour hold at 10:40am EST and the crew departing for Launch Pad 39-A at 10:42am.

The countdown resumed at 2 a.m. Thursday at the T-19 hour mark following a 24-hour postponement of launch necessary to add additional insulation to water coolant lines in the payload bay. Launch is set for 2 p.m. EST Friday, April 4, at the opening of a 2 1/2 hour window. Air Force weather forecasters are currently indicating only a 10 percent probability of weather prohibiting launch of Columbia on April 4. The only concern is for a slight chance of rain showers generated by sea breezes. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 4/3/97)

The countdown began at the T-43 hour mark at 2 pm on Monday, March 31, 1997 with a planned launch date of Thursday, April 3, 1997 at 2:01pm. However, the clock was held at the T-19 Hour mark on Tuesday April 1, 1997 and a new T-0 was set for Friday, April 4, 1997 at 2:00pm EST. The Mission Management Team briefly considered but decided against an option to move the launch time forward approximately 1 hour to 1:07pm EST. The move forward in launch time would have allowed more daylight at the Banjul TAL site and help with concerns about delamination of a backup antenna system at Banjul.

On Tuesday, April 1, 1997 the decision was made to slip the launch one day, after managers determined that a water coolant line in the orbiter's payload bay was not properly insulated. Additional insulation was required to prevent this line from possibly freezing during Columbia's 16 days in space.

On Tuesday, 3/25/97, the loading of hypergolic propellants into the orbiters Reaction Control System (RCS) was completed and ordnance installation conducted.

On Thursday, 3/20/97, following completion of the Flight Readiness Review, NASA managers set April 3, 1997, as the official launch date for NASA's Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. Donald A. Thomas, who suffered a broken ankle following a routine training exercise on Jan. 29, has officially been cleared to fly as planned.

On Thursday, 3/13/97, The STS-83 Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) was conducted at KSC. The TCDT is held prior to each Space Shuttle flight providing the crew of each mission opportunities to participate in simulated countdown activities. Overnight, inspections were made of the low pressure fuel turbo pumps on the three Space Shuttle main engines. The pump on engine No. 1 was found to have unacceptable rotor blades and the decision was made to remove and replace this pump.

On 3/11/97, Rollout of Space Shuttle Columbia from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Pad 39A began at 6:32 a.m. The crawler transporter was positioned under the mobile launcher platform (MLP) with the Shuttle mounted on top and final preparations were made for the 3.4 mile move to the pad. Once at the pad, workers prepared to hot fire auxiliary power unit No. 2. The Rotating Service Structure was then placed around the vehicle Wednesday morning.

On 3/10/97, Columbia's roll out to Pad 39A was delayed 24-hours due to a liquid oxygen T-0 umbilical carrier plate alignment problem encountered during operations to mate Columbia with the external tank Friday/Saturday. Also, the liquid hydrogen tail service mast required minor repairs. Because of these issues, the Shuttle interface verification test was delayed from Saturday to Sunday, 3/9/1997, delaying roll out Tuesday.

On 3/5/97, Columbia moved to the VAB shortly after noon. Inserts necessary to secure an umbilical flow liner in the orbiter's 17-inch disconnect area were installed overnight. Power-up was not required and close-outs of the umbilical were complete. The orbiter was placed on the orbiter transporter in the early morning on 3/5/97 and the landing gear retracted. Once in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), Columbia was lifted to the vertical position and hard mated to the External Tank (ET) and Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB's) in VAB High Bay No. 1. on 3/6/97.

On 2/27/97, preparations continue to roll Columbia to the VAB. Final close-outs of the body-flap cove area are complete and the aft engine compartment doors will be installed on Sunday, 3/2/97. Integrated hydraulic checks of the aerosurfaces and other orbiter systems will be completed tonight. On Monday, the orbiter will be weighed and the center of gravity checks made. Early Tuesday, the vehicle will be mated to the orbiter transporter. First motion is expected to occur Tuesday afternoon.

On 2/26/97, the strong backs have been removed from the payload bay doors as preparations continue to roll Columbia to the VAB early next week. Final repairs to minor corrosion in the body-flap cove area are complete and close-outs are expected to be finished later today. Integrated hydraulic checks of the aerosurfaces and other orbiter systems will begin tonight. Aft engine compartment close-outs are also scheduled to be finished this weekend.

On 2/17/97, during scheduled modifications to existing lines in OPF bay 2's hypergolic fuel system, monomethyl hydrazine (the liquid fuel used in the orbiter's reaction control system) unexpectedly spilled out onto two technicians doing the work. Other workers were also treated for possible inhalation. All treated for either exposure or possible inhalation were later released with no apparent serious injuries. OPF bay 2, OPF bay 1 and the OPF Annex were evacuated at the time of the spill. All but bay 2 was reopened about three hours after the incident.

On 2/14/97, The spacelab transfer tunnel has been installed and an interface verification test is scheduled for next week. Also, the right hand Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod has been installed and cross-feed connections are complete. The crew of mission STS-83 arrived for the Crew Equipment and Interface Test (CEIT) on 2/15/97. They spent the time inspecting the orbiter and the spacelab which was installed into the payload bay on Feb. 1.

On 1/30/97, the external tank was mated to the Solid Rocket Boosters in the VAB.


Altitude: 184 statute miles
Inclination: 28.45
Orbits: 63
Duration: 3 days, 23 hours, 13 minutes, 38 seconds.
Distance: 1.5 million miles


SRB: BI-086
ET : SN-84
SSME-1: SN-2012
SSME-2: SN-2109
SSME-3: SN-2019


KSC 4/8/1997 2:33 pm EDT. Landing at KSC Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) Runway 15. Main gear touchdown at 2:33:11 pm EDT (MET 3days 23hr 12min 39sec). Nose gear touchdown at 2:33:23 pm EDT (MET 3days 23hours 12min 51sec) and Wheel Stop at 2:34:10 pm EDT (MET 3days 23hours 13min 38sec). Originally the mission was scheduled to last 15 days, 16 hours, 29 minutes.

The first deorbit opportunity was on orbit 63 with an engine firing at 2:31 pm EDT.31 pm EDT.

Landing was originally scheduled for KSC April 19 at 7:30am EDT but the mission was cut short due to problems with Columbia's Fuel Cell #2. The MSL payload will refly on STS-94 slated for July 1997.

Mission Highlights:

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