Columbia lifted off at 9:39 a.m. CST from the Kennedy Space Center in near-perfect weather after a flawless countdown. The crew opened the spacecraft's payload bay doors about 11:35 a.m. and then were given the go-ahead for on-orbit operations.
The seven-member crew is divided into two teams, each working 12 hours per day during most of the flight. Members of the blue team, Pilot Willie McCool and Mission Specialists Dave Brown and Mike Anderson, began a six-hour sleep period at 2:47 p.m. CST and will be awakened at 8:49 p.m. Red team members, Commander Rick Husband, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark, and Israeli Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon, begin a 7-hour sleep period at 9:39 p.m.
Spacehab is a pressurized research module 20 feet long, 14 feet wide and 11 feet high. It houses equipment for 59 experiments, three of them mounted on its roof. Its activation marks the beginning of the major science activities of Columbia's mission.
All systems aboard Columbia continue to function flawlessly.
The shuttle is at an altitude of about 178 statute miles, in an orbit inclined 39 degrees to the equator. Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 6 crewmembers, Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit, received a live video uplink of the launch through the ISS Flight Control Room in the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston.