We are standing in front of the external tank on the ET Hydrogen Vent Umbilical and Intertank Access arm, at the 167-foot level on Pad 39B.
Below, a lovely view of Earth’s surface at sunset, with thunderstorms casting long shadows.
In Columbia’s airlock, Story Musgrave (hands at left) is pulling on Tammy’s right glove as we ready for our Thanksgiving spacewalk on Nov. 28, 1996. (It was thwarted by a loose screw that jammed the airlock outer hatch mechanism.) Tammy was EV-1, the lead spacewalker; note the red stripe on her suit backpack. Connected to her suit’s DCU (display and control unit, on her chest) is the service and cooling umbilical (SCU), bringing ship’s power, oxygen, and water to the spacesuit while in the airlock. We would remove that connection just before opening the outer hatch at vacuum. Her backpack portable life support system (PLS) is still mounted to the airlock wall. Story would release the backpack from the wall mount before exiting the airlock and closing the hatch leading to the middeck.
With tools, cameras, and body restraint tethers, we were loaded for bear for this EVA. It’s amazing that we could actually maneuver inside that shower-stall-sized airlock, but free fall gave us full access to the head space in the airlock, easing the crowding problem.
Story and I are enjoying breakfast in the galley on Columbia’s middeck, port side. Columbia’s nose is to the right. That gray drawer suspended at upper right is a food tray containing a few days’ worth of meals. I’m having a breakfast burrito of sausage and eggs. Story has an oatmeal package in his hand. Our food trash will go in that clear plastic bag on the left side near the airlock. Just behind us is a blue stack of drawers called the MAR, the middeck accommodations rack, with a food tray and drink bags velcroed to it. Behind story to the left is the open door to the bathroom, the WCS (waste collection system) compartment.
One of my jobs on the STS-80 mission was to manage the overall wiring setup for our many combinations of cameras, video recorders, laptops, and Space Vision System video processors. Here you see me with the labyrinthine Photo-TV checklist on Columbia’s starboard side, aft flight deck (payload bay windows to right). The black box is a video tape recorder, or VTR. A Canon video camera is just to the right of my chin. The “4-5-6-7” pouches contain the Sky Genie escape ropes that we’d use to exit the flight deck out the overhead window, after a landing emergency. (Not much call for those ropes 220 miles up). That’s a St. Christopher (patron saint of travelers) medallion floating on a silver chain around my neck.
Taco washes his hair using rinseless shampoo. Fill a shampoo pouch with hot water, squirt onto scalp, lather up. Dry with a clean towel (seen at upper right). Comb or brush. Taco here is on the middeck, with the side hatch area behind him. On an 18-day mission, personal hygiene in Columbia’s small cabin was an important obligation, especially after a workout.
With Earth visible over Story’s shoulder, he monitors the Wake Shield satellite trailing us on Columbia by about 30 miles. The commander’s orange pack parachute is visible at left. Story had mounted his Wake Shield laptop atop the pilot’s (Kent Rominger’s) seat back, a perch only possible in free fall. The laptop received data from Wake Shield via an output cable from the shuttle’s Pulse-Code Modulation Master Unit, the PCMMU (puck-a-moo).
On Columbia’s middeck, Story helps Ken Cockrell don his launch and entry suit (LES). Story is forward at the middeck lockers; Taco is near the port-side hatch, over there to the left of the blue MAR rack. Story’s reentry seat next to the MAR is already installed to Taco’s right (he didn’t sit in it during reentry). The circular, clear cover at upper left is the UV hatch filter usually installed over the side hatch window. At far left is the gray metal box containing the escape pole, rigged for bailout in an emergency. Those blue velcro squares below it are on the hatch surface itself, which in flight is part of the waste collection system compartment–the shuttle’s bathroom.
Rommel and Tammy work on the starboard side of the middeck with the Capillary Action Pumped Loop science payload. They are taking video and watching one of the experimental runs, showing fluid in motion in free fall via capillary action, a possible system for removing heat using a working fluid without moving parts, like motors and pumps. Experiments like these were a daily activity for all of us aboard Columbia.
In this shot I’m “standing” next to my flight deck seat (left) on entry day. No doubt that is the deorbit prep checklist I’m holding. I’m wearing my launch and entry suit; I’ve got the parachute harness on already; the ‘chute is already in place on the seat. Hung on the side of the seat is my gray intercom box and a thermoelectric chiller to circulate cold water through my long underwear during reentry. Over on the port side (right) is a gray Canon video camera. Those windows behind me look back into the payload bay. Surrounding me are the hundreds of switches and controls of the aft flight deck–part of our home for 18 days on the STS-80 mission.
On Columbia’s middeck, mission specialist astronaut Tammy Jernigan has just finished washing her hair. She’s using the life support system’s fresh air outlet hose (which everyone calls the elephant trunk) to speed the drying process considerably. Unfortunately for her, it’s not hot air–just cool, clean, conditioned air. The forward equipment lockers are to the left, our sleeping bunks at rear, and the airlock just out of view to the right. Note the meal pouches waiting for preparation at lower right. Behind Tammy’s head you can see one of our individual toiletry kits, a Personal Hygiene Kit, or PHK. Below Tammy’s left elbow is a stowage bag, probably holding some of our dirty laundry after nearly 18 days in orbit.
Was this a terrific moment? From the flight engineer’s seat (MS-2), I could feel Columbia settling gently toward the xenon-lit runway ahead, with Taco handling the landing beautifully. Rommel was calling out the speed and altitude–we were right on the profile. Touchdown was so smooth I had to look at the computer display on the panel to see that the software had moded over to “I’m on the ground” operations. Wow–smooth as silk! Taco brought the ship to a stop and commented: “My knees are shaking!” He’d just received a blast of adrenaline for the final approach, and now we were stopped and he could enjoy his great landing. I’ve seldom been so exhilarated. Back on Earth after 18 days–longest shuttle mission in history!
NASA Caption: Just prior to dawn, the space shuttle Columbia heads for a landing on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) to successfully complete a 17-day mission. Landing occurred just before dawn, at 6:49 a.m. (EST). The landing was the 33rd at KSC for the Space Transportation System (STS). Crew members on STS-80 were astronauts Kenneth D. Cockrell, mission commander; and Kent V. Rominger, pilot; along with Story Musgrave, Tamara E. Jernigan and Thomas D. Jones, all mission specialists.
Three of our crew visited the factory in Promontory where our flown STS-80 boosters had been returned for cleaning, disassembly, and reuse. We are standing by the aft end of our booster; the nozzle was jettisoned during descent to splashdown, and the aft skirt has been removed. Inside, the rubber insulation lining the steel booster casings is visible. The exhaust temperature of the booster in flight is about 5,000 degrees F, while the insulated steel of the casings never gets above ambient temperature during firing. An engineer told us that as far as the steel was concerned, the stresses of STS-80 launch, ascent and booster splashdown made for an unremarkable, “ho-hum” day. The people who built and prepared these boosters for flight held our lives in their hands, and we are still grateful for their professionalism and expertise. Longer, five-segment boosters like our four-segment shuttle boosters will power the mammoth Space Launch System rocket.