Encyclopedia Astronautica
STS-93



zsts093.jpg
STS-93
Credit: NASA
Crew: Ashby, Coleman, Collins Eileen, Hawley, Tognini. Delivered Chandra spacecraft. Hydrogen fuel leaked out during ascent, resulting in shuttle running out of propellant and ending up in an orbit 11 km lower than planned.

STS-93 was first rolled out to pad 39B on June 7 1999. The Chandra/IUS-27 vehicle was placed in the payload canister on June 19. The first launch attempt was on July 20, but controllers aborted the launch at T-6 seconds, just before main engine ignition, due to a data spike in hydrogen pressure data. This was determined to be due to a faulty sensor and a second attempt was on July 22. A lightning storm prevented launch during the 46 minute window, and the launch was again scrubbed. Finally the vehicle lifted off the pad on July 23, but five seconds after launch a short in an electrical bus brought down two of the three main engine controllers. Backup controllers took over, but a further failure on the backup controller bus would have resulted in engine shutdown and the first ever attempt at an RTLS (Return To Launch Site) abort. To further complicate matters engine 3 (SSME 2019) had a hydrogen leak throughout the ascent, causing the engine to run hot. Controllers sweated as temperatures neared redline. The hot engine's controller compensated as programmed by using additional liquid oxygen propellant. The final result was that the shuttle ran out of gas - main engine cut-off (MECO) was at 04:39 GMT, putting Columbia into a 78 km x 276 km x 28.5 degree transfer orbit. Columbia was 1,700 kg short of oxygen propellant and 5 meters/sec slower than planned. The OMS-2 engine burn at 05:12 GMT circularised the orbit 10 km lower than planned.

The orbiter payload bay contained only the Chandra spacecraft, the IUS, and the IUS tilt tableTthe following payloads were carried in the shuttle's cabin: STL-B (Space Tissue Loss), CCM (Cell culture module), SAREX-II (Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment), EarthKam, PGIM (Plant Growth Investigations in Microgravity), CGBA (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus), MEMS (Micro-electric Mechanical System), and BRIC (Biological Research in Canisters) and SWUIS (the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System, an 0.18-m UV telescope to be used for airglow and planetary observations); GOSAMR (the Gelation of Sols: Applied Microgravity Research experiment) and LFSAH, the Lightweight Flexible Solar Array Hinge. MSX and SIMPLEX experiments were also to be carried out.

Chandra/IUS-27 was deployed from Columbia at 11:47 GMT July 23. Flight duration was limited; this was the heaviest shuttle (122,534 kg) and heaviest payload (19,736 kg) to that date. Columbia landed at 03:20 GMT on July 28 on runway 33 at Kennedy Space Center. Post-flight inspection found the presence of holes in the cooling lines on the nozzle of SSME 2019 (engine 3) which caused a hydrogen leak. A loose repair pin in the engine broke free and caused the failure. The cause of the short was found to be chaffed wiring inside the shuttle. The entire fleet was grounded for inspection and replacement of wiring as necessary.

NASA Official Mission Summary:

STS-93
(Chandra X-ray Observatory)
Columbia
Pad B
95th Shuttle mission
26th flight
OV-102
48th KSC landing
Crew:
Eileen M. Collins, Commander (3rd Shuttle flight)
Jeffrey S. Ashby, Pilot (1st)
Steven A. Hawley, Mission Specialist (5th)
Catherine G. "Cady" Coleman, Mission Specialist (2nd)
Michel Tognini, Mission Specialist (2nd) (CNES, French Space Agency)
Orbiter Preps:
OPF - May 4, 1998
VAB - Feb. 10, 1999 (Temporary storage)
OPF - April 15, 1999
VAB - June 2, 1999
Pad 39 B - June 7, 1999

Launch:

July 23, 1999, at 12:31:00 a.m. EDT. The originally scheduled launch on July 20 was scrubbed at about the T-7 second mark in the countdown. Following a virtually flawless countdown, the orbiter's hazardous gas detection system indicated a 640 ppm concentration of hydrogen in Columbia's aft engine compartment, more than double the allowable amount. System engineers in KSC's Firing Room No. 1 noted the indication and initiated a manual cutoff of the ground launch sequencer less than one-half second before the Shuttle's three main engines would have started. Following preliminary system and data evaluation, launch managers determined the hydrogen concentration indication was false.

A second launch attempt 48 hours later was scrubbed due to weather at KSC. A 24-hour turnaround was initiated and the third launch attempt succeeded with Columbia lifting off the pad on July 23.

During the countdown for launch on the third attempt, a communications problem occurred that resulted in the loss of the forward link to Columbia. The problem was corrected at the Merritt Island Launch Area (MILA) ground facility and communications was restored. As a result of this problem, the time of the planned launch was slipped seven minutes to 12:31 a.m. EDT on July 23.

About 5 seconds after liftoff, flight controllers noted a voltage drop on one of the shuttle's electrical buses. Because of this voltage drop, one of two redundant main engine controllers on two of the three engines shut down. The redundant controllers on those two engines - center and right main engines - functioned normally, allowing them to fully support Columbia's climb to orbit. The orbit attained, however, was 7 miles short of that originally projected due to premature main engine cutoff an instant before the scheduled cutoff. This problem was eventually traced to a hydrogen leak in the No. 3 main engine nozzle. The leak was caused when a liquid oxygen post pin came out of the main injector during main engine ignition, striking the hotwall of the nozzle and rupturing three liquid hydrogen coolant tubes.

The orbiter eventually attained its proper altitude and successfully deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory into its desired orbit.

Landing:

July 27, 1999 at 11:20:37 p.m. EDT. Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Rollout distance 6,851 feet. Rollout time: 43.3 seconds. Mission duration: 4 days, 22 hours, 49 minutes, 37 seconds. Landed on orbit 80, logging 1.8 million miles. It marked the 12th nighttime landing in the shuttle program and the 7th at Kennedy Space Center.

Mission Highlights:

STS-93 was the first mission in Space Shuttle history to be commanded by a woman, Commander Eileen Collins. Also, this was the shortest scheduled mission since 1990.

On the first day of the scheduled five-day mission, the Chandra X-ray Observatory was deployed from Columbia's payload bay. Chandra's two-stage Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) propelled the observatory into a transfer orbit of 205 miles by 44,759 miles in altitude.

Following the second IUS burn, Chandra's solar arrays were deployed and the IUS separated from the observatory as planned. During the rest of the mission secondary payloads and experiments were activated. The Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System (SWUIS) was used aboard Columbia to capture ultraviolet imagery of Earth, the Moon, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter.

Astronauts monitored several plant growth experiments and collected data from a biological cell culture experiment. They used the exercise treadmill and the Treadmill Vibration Information System to measure vibrations and changes in microgravity levels caused by on-orbit workouts.

High Definition Television equipment was tested for future use on both the shuttle and the International Space Station to conform to evolving broadcasting industry standards for television products.

AKA: Columbia.
First Launch: 1999.07.23.
Last Launch: 1999.07.28.
Duration: 4.95 days.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Tognini Tognini, Michel Ange-Charles (1949-) French test pilot mission specialist astronaut. Flew on Mir Antares, STS-93. Trained for missions under both US and Russian programs. More...
  • Hawley Hawley, Dr Steven Alan (1951-) American astronomer mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-41-D, STS-61-C, STS-31, STS-82, STS-93. Was married to astronaut Sally Ride. More...
  • Ashby Ashby, Jeffrey Shears 'Bones' (1954-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-93, STS-100, STS-112. Grew up near Evergreen, Colorado. Flew 33 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. More...
  • Collins, Eileen Collins, Eileen Marie 'Mom' (1956-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-63, STS-84, STS-93, STS-114. US Air Force test pilot, first female shuttle pilot and first female spacecraft commander. More...
  • Coleman Coleman, Dr Catherine Grace 'Cady' (1960-) American materials scientist mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-73, STS-93, ISS EO-26. US Air Force engineer. More...

Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Columbia American manned spaceplane. 28 launches, 1981.04.12 (STS-1) to 2003.01.16 (STS-107). Columbia, the first orbiter in the Shuttle fleet, was named after the sloop that accomplished the first American circumnavigation of the globe. More...

See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • NASA Houston American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Houston, Houston, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • STS The Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle) was conceived originally as a completely reusable system that would provide cheap, routine access to space and replace all American and civilian military launch vehicles. Crippled by technological overreach, political compromise, and budget limitations, it instead ended up costing more than the expendable rockets it was to have replaced. STS sucked the money out of all other NASA projects for half a century. The military abandoned its use after the Challenger shuttle explosion in the 1980's. More...

Bibliography
  • Mullane, Mike, Riding Rockets, Scribner, New York, 2006.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...

STS-93 Chronology


1999 July 23 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 03 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Chandra was deployed from Columbia a little more than seven hours into the flight at 6:47 a.m. CDT. Thanks to a pair of burns by its inertial upper stage (IUS), the third of NASA's four great observatories is now on its way to an elliptical orbit that will support five years of observations into the X-ray mysteries of the universe. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 23 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 01 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Jett; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. The Space Shuttle Columbia blasted off late Thursday night (early Friday morning, Eastern time) to carry five astronauts to orbit for the long-awaited deployment of Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which will unveil previously invisible mysteries of the universe. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 23 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 02 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. A little more than seven hours after Columbia and its five astronauts were launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Chandra was spring-ejected from a cradle in the shuttle's cargo bay at 6:47 a.m. Central time, as Columbia flew over the Indonesian Island chain. Commander Eileen Collins, the first female Shuttle Commander, maneuvered Columbia to a safe distance away from the telescope as an internal timer counted down to the first of a two-phase ignition of the solid-fuel Inertial Upper Stage. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 23 - . 04:31 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-93.
  • STS-93 - . Call Sign: Columbia. Crew: Collins, Eileen; Ashby; Hawley; Coleman; Tognini. Payload: Columbia F26 / Chandra. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Collins, Eileen; Ashby; Hawley; Coleman; Tognini. Agency: NASA Houston. Manufacturer: North American. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-93. Spacecraft: Columbia. Duration: 4.95 days. Decay Date: 1999-07-28 . USAF Sat Cat: 25866 . COSPAR: 1999-040A. Apogee: 280 km (170 mi). Perigee: 260 km (160 mi). Inclination: 28.5000 deg. Period: 89.90 min. STS-93 was first rolled out to pad 39B on June 7 1999. The Chandra/IUS-27 vehicle was placed in the payload canister on June 19. The first launch attempt was on July 20, but controllers aborted the launch at T-6 seconds, just before main engine ignition, due to a data spike in hydrogen pressure data. This was determined to be due to a faulty sensor and a second attempt was on July 22. A lightning storm prevented launch during the 46 minute window, and the launch was again scrubbed. Finally the vehicle lifted off the pad on July 23, but five seconds after launch a short in an electrical bus brought down two of the three main engine controllers. Backup controllers took over, but a further failure on the backup controller bus would have resulted in engine shutdown and the first ever attempt at an RTLS (Return To Launch Site) abort. To further complicate matters engine 3 (SSME 2019) had a hydrogen leak throughout the ascent, causing the engine to run hot. Controllers sweated as temperatures neared redline. The hot engine’s controller compensated as programmed by using additional liquid oxygen propellant. The final result was that the shuttle ran out of gas - main engine cut-off (MECO) was at 04:39 GMT, putting Columbia into a 78 km x 276 km x 28.5 degree transfer orbit. Columbia was 1,700 kg short of oxygen propellant and 5 meters/sec slower than planned. The OMS-2 engine burn at 05:12 GMT circularised the orbit 10 km lower than planned.

    The orbiter payload bay contained only the Chandra spacecraft, the IUS, and the IUS tilt tableTthe following payloads were carried in the shuttle’s cabin: STL-B (Space Tissue Loss), CCM (Cell culture module), SAREX-II (Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment), EarthKam, PGIM (Plant Growth Investigations in Microgravity), CGBA (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus), MEMS (Micro-electric Mechanical System), and BRIC (Biological Research in Canisters) and SWUIS (the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System, an 0.18-m UV telescope to be used for airglow and planetary observations); GOSAMR (the Gelation of Sols: Applied Microgravity Research experiment) and LFSAH, the Lightweight Flexible Solar Array Hinge. MSX and SIMPLEX experiments were also to be carried out.

    Chandra/IUS-27 was deployed from Columbia at 11:47 GMT July 23. Flight duration was limited; this was the heaviest shuttle (122,534 kg) and heaviest payload (19,736 kg) to that date. Columbia landed at 03:20 GMT on July 28 on runway 33 at Kennedy Space Center. Post-flight inspection found the presence of holes in the cooling lines on the nozzle of SSME 2019 (engine 3) which caused a hydrogen leak. A loose repair pin in the engine broke free and caused the failure. The cause of the short was found to be chaffed wiring inside the shuttle. The entire fleet was grounded for inspection and replacement of wiring as necessary.


1999 July 24 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 05 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Summary: Commander Eileen Collins, Pilot Jeff Ashby and Mission Specialists Cady Coleman, Steve Hawley and Michel Tognini were awakened at 5:31 p.m. CDT with the song "Brave New Girls," performed by Teresa.. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 24 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 04 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Commander Eileen Collins, Pilot Jeff Ashby and Mission Specialists Cady Coleman, Steve Hawley and Michel Tognini worked on experiments involving everything from astronomy to biomedicine to plant growth as the shuttle continued to orbit the Earth every 90 minutes in excellent shape. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 25 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 06 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Commander Eileen Collins, Pilot Jeff Ashby and Mission Specialists Cady Coleman, Steve Hawley and Michel Tognini conducted experiments ranging from astronomical observations with an ultraviolet telescope to cell culture studies. Investigations also included testing new materials which may one day be used to fabricate sturdier solar arrays. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 25 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 07 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Summary: The five astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia began their fourth flight day at 4:31 p.m. CDT, preparing to make additional celestial observations through the shuttle's windows and continue work with a variety of experiments.. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 26 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 09 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Summary: Columbia's crew began packing up experiments today and preparing to return to Earth tomorrow with a touchdown planned on the Kennedy Space Center's shuttle runway in Florida at 10:20 p.m. CDT.. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 26 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 08 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Summary: Columbia's astronauts entered the homestretch of their mission this morning, conducting additional experiments in the Shuttle's middeck area as they began preparations for their scheduled return to Earth late Tuesday night.. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 27 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 12 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Summary: Columbia's astronauts glided to a smooth landing tonight at the Kennedy Space Center, wrapping up their five-day mission to deploy the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 27 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 11 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Barry; Coleman; Hawley; Ross; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Columbia's astronauts made final preparations Tuesday evening to come home after a successful five-day flight. Commander Eileen Collins, Pilot Jeff Ashby and Mission Specialists Cady Coleman, Steve Hawley and Michel Tognini were awakened at 2:31 p.m. CDT Tuesday to "A Little Traveling Music" by Barry Manilow, requested by Hawley's wife Eileen, and "The Air Force Song," played for Collins and Coleman. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 27 - .
  • STS-93 Mission Status Report # 10 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Ashby; Coleman; Hawley; Ross; Tognini; Collins, Eileen. Program: STS. Flight: STS-93. Summary: Columbia's astronauts tested their ship's systems and packed up their gear, ready for a nighttime homecoming late tonight at the Kennedy Space Center to wrap up their five-day mission.. Additional Details: here....

1999 July 28 - .
1999 July 29 - .
  • ISS Status Report: ISS 99-28 - . Nation: USA. Program: ISS. Flight: STS-93. The focus of attention remained on the conditioning of the six batteries in the Zarya module and the "deep cycling" of the batteries to insure that they will provide the proper output of electricity. The "deep cycling" effort involves the discharge and recharge of each battery to maintain as long a life as possible for the operation of ISS systems. Additional Details: here....

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