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.
Above: Our first task after launch was to deploy the ORFEUS-SPAS satellite on Flight Day 1, so it could begin its astronomical observations. NASA Caption: Built by the German Space Agency, DARA, the ORFEUS-SPAS II, a free-flying satellite, was dedicated to astronomical observations at very short wavelengths to: investigate the nature of hot stellar atmospheres, investigate the cooling mechanisms of white dwarf stars, determine the nature of accretion disks around collapsed stars, investigate supernova remnants, and investigate the interstellar medium and potential star-forming regions. Some 422 observations of almost 150 astronomical objects were completed, including the Moon, nearby stars, distant Milky Way stars, stars in other galaxies, active galaxies, and quasar 3C273.
Here, Tammy has ORFEUS-SPAS firmly in the grasp of the robot arm, ready for release.
During our approach to pick up the Orbiting Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer – Shuttle Pallet Satellite (ORFEUS-SPAS) on flight day 15, Astronaut Tamara E. Jernigan, STS-80 mission specialist, uses a laser ranging device to check range and closure rate. ORFEUS-SPAS performed two weeks of astronomy observations during our mission. Tammy was the lead RMS operator for deployment and retrieval of the spacecraft.
Below, a lovely view of Earth’s surface at sunset, with thunderstorms casting long shadows.
Tom controls arm for Wakeshield retrieval on STS-80 (NASA sts080-330-023)
In the photo above, I operate the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) controls during retrieval of the Wake Shield Facility (WSF). When this picture was taken, the free-flying WSF satellite–deployed for three days of orbital operations behind our orbiter– was already in the grasp of the RMS’ end effector, as evidenced by the video displayed on Columbia’s aft flight deck monitor behind my head. Taken 11/25/96.
On 11/26/96, I regrappled the Wake Shield and maneuvered it above the payload bay during tests of our Space Vision System, using video cameras and laptop computers to image the black dots on the spacecraft and compute the 3D position of the satellite. The SVS would later be used to help assemble the International Space Station.
In the photo below, Tammy and I prepare our spacesuits and tools for our Flight Day 10 spacewalk (first of two planned EVAs), scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 28, 1996. The night before the EVA, our tools, suits, and associated gear nearly fill up the middeck. That’s Story with the pen in the foreground, running us through the EVA prep checklist. As one of the astronauts who’d fixed the Hubble telescope, Story was the man you wanted coaching you through a spacewalk.
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).
Above — This was a nice moment in the flight. As NASA wrote: “Astronauts Kenneth D. Cockrell, STS-80 mission commander, and Tamara E. Jernigan, payload commander, share a moment of off-duty time with astronaut Story Musgrave on the middeck of the Earth-orbiting space shuttle Columbia. Musgrave was making his sixth flight aboard the Space Shuttle as a mission specialist. His fellow crewmembers presented him with a patch that reads, “Master of Space.” Before and during his 30 years with NASA, Musgrave obtained several academic degrees, including several Masters, a medical doctorate and a Ph.D.”
Story is wearing that patch on his polo shirt. His four crewmates all participated in awarding Story this honor. As we encountered problems and challenges on this mission, we could always rely on his experience to put things in perspective and come up with creative solutions. Story is still a great mentor and friend.
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.
As we prepared for entry–three times!–we set up Columbia for her return to Earth and got dressed for our trip back through the atmosphere to KSC. Here Taco is wearing his base layer of long johns, plus our water-cooled Patagonia underwear, as he works through the Entry Prep Checklist. His parachute is already in the seat; his suit is waiting downstairs in the middeck. A snack of dried apricots is velcroed on the dash. All those cardboard cue cards are memory aids for reentry, everything from “go–no-go” equipment lists to test piloting tasks to perform during the hypersonic phases of our descent. By the time we actually got weather good enough to return to Florida, we’d rehearsed this twice and were ready for the real thing on Dec. 7, 1996.
Above, we see Taco rigged up for entry–maybe he and Story are both all grins because the weather’s looking decent at KSC (finally). Taco in his ACES suit is wearing his parachute harness with chest life preserver; the ‘chute itself is still up in his commander’s seat. Story’s seat is just behind Taco, and Story will plan to get dressed once he’s got the flight deck bunch suited up. This view is from starboard looking to port on the middeck. The side hatch is at far left. (added 12/7/18)
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.
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.
Above: I was sitting just behind Taco and Rommel as they flew our near-perfect spaceship to a smooth landing at Kennedy Space Center. Taco’s touchdown was so smooth that none of us could truly tell the wheels were actually on the concrete. I had to look for the on-screen indication that the flight computers had received a touchdown message from the landing gear squat switches. Grease job! Well done!
Above: Smoke bursts from our main landing gear tires as they kiss the concrete at about 220 knots. Taco brought the ship to a stop and exclaimed: “My knees are shaking!” He was experiencing that blast of adrenaline released on final approach; now that we were stopped, he could enjoy the special satisfaction of a great landing. Right behind him, I joined in the crew’s exhilaration. Back on Earth after 18 days–longest shuttle mission in history!
Our beautiful spacecraft, Columbia, at rest after nearly 18 days in orbit. The ground support convoy has joined us to inspect and shape the orbiter, and ready her for crew exit. Oh, and the sun is coming up!
For a commander like Taco, there’s no better feeling than having brought a $2-billion spaceship and crew back for a perfect landing.
Rommel is just behind Story as he feels the heat still emanating from Columbia’s reinforced carbon-carbon nose. He’s looking pretty good at age 61. Here’s what NASA said:
“His last spaceflight behind him, STS-80 Mission Specialist Story Musgrave takes one last look at the orbiter Columbia parked on Runway 33 of KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility. Musgrave became at age 61 the oldest human being to fly into space and in completing his sixth spaceflight ties astronaut John Young’s record for most human spaceflight, while also setting a new record for most Shuttle flights. Columbia touched down at 6:49:05 a.m. EST, Dec. 7, wrapping up Mission STS-80 and the final Shuttle flight of 1996.”
Story is a man for the record books. He flew on all five shuttle orbiters.
Inspection of the orbiter complete, our crew–on gimpy legs–prepares to board the Astrovan for our trip back to crew quarters and a reunion with our families. I wondered if that airlock hatch was still jammed.
Above, worries about the jammed hatch and lost spacewalks disappear when I rejoin Liz, Bryce, and Annie. Best…moment….ever.
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.