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Part of STS Family
Credit: NASA
Life and Microgravity Spacelab; human biological and microgravity experiments.

AKA: Columbia;LMS. Launched: 1996-06-20. Returned: 1996-07-07. Number crew: 7 . Duration: 16.91 days.

NASA Official Mission Summary:

Pad B
78th Shuttle mission
20th flight OV-102
Longest Shuttle flight to date
31st KSC landing
Terence T. "Tom" Henricks, Mission Commander (4th
Shuttle flight)
Kevin R. Kregel, Pilot (2nd)
Susan J. Helms, Payload Commander (3rd)
Richard M. Linnehan, Mission Specialist (1st)
Charles E. Brady Jr., Mission Specialist (1st)
Jean-Jacques Favier, Payload Specialist (1st) (CNES, French Space Agency)
Robert Brent Thirsk, Payload Specialist (1st) (Canadian Space Agency)
Orbiter Preps (move to):
OPF - March 9, 1996
VAB - May 21, 1996
Pad - May 30, 1996


June 20, 1996, 10:49:00 a.m. EDT. Liftoff proceeded on time. In-cabin camera provided first video images from flight deck, beginning with crew ingress and continuing through main engine cutoff. Post-launch assessment of spent solid rocket boosters revealed hot gas path in motor field joints to, but not past capture feature Oring. This marked first occurrence of combustion product penetration into the J-joint of redesigned solid rocket motor (RSRM). Flight safety was not compromised, and motor performance met design specification requirements. Probable cause attributed to new, more environmentally friendly adhesive and cleaning fluid.


July 7, 1996, 8:36:45 a.m. EDT, Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Rollout distance: 9,339 feet (2,847 meters). Rollout time: 45 seconds. Mission duration: 16 days, 21 hours, 47 minutes, 45 seconds. Landed revolution 272. Longest Shuttle flight to date. Landed on first opportunity at KSC. First live downlink video during orbiter's descent. After landing, Henricks and Kregel participated in Olympic Torch ceremony at KSC Visitor Center.

Mission Highlights:

Five space agencies (NASA/USA; European Space Agency/ Europe; French Space Agency/France; Canadian Space Agency/ Canada; and Italian Space Agency/Italy) and research scientists from 10 countries worked together on primary payload of STS-78, Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS). More than 40 experiments flown were grouped into two areas: life sciences, which included human physiology and space biology, and microgravity science, which included basic fluid physics investigations, advanced semiconductor and metal alloy materials processing, and medical research in protein crystal growth.

LMS investigations conducted via most extensive telescience to date. Investigators located at four remote European and four remote U.S. locations, similar to what will happen with International Space Station. Mission also made extensive use of video imaging to help crew members perform inflight maintenance procedures on experiment hardware.

Previous life science investigations have delved into what physiological changes take place in microgravity environment; integrated LMS experiments explored why these changes occur. Most extensive studies ever conducted on bone and muscle loss in space. STS-78 marked first time researchers collected muscle tissue biopsy samples both before and after flight. Crew members also were scheduled to undergo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans almost immediately after landing. Findings from comparison of the biopsy samples, along with various musculoskeletal tests conducted during mission, could lead to effective countermeasures to reduce inflight muscle atrophy.

Other life science investigations: First ever comprehensive study of sleep cycles, 24-hour circadian rhythms and task performance in microgravity. Spacecraft orbiting Earth pass through 16 sunrises and sunsets in single 24-hour period, which could disrupt normal body rhythms. During two 72-hour time blocks, crew members completed questionnaires and measured such functions as eye movement and muscle activity during sleep. In the Performance Assessment Work Station, crew members performed series of drills involving math problems and other mental tests to measure microgravity effects on cognitive, or thinking, skills.

Microgravity science investigations included Advanced Gradient Heating Facility, in which samples of pure aluminum containing zirconia particles were solidified. Could lead to more inexpensive ways to make mixtures of metals and ceramics, particularly useful to the metal casting industry. The Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility is first ever designed to use three methods for growing protein crystals. In Electrohydrodynamics of Liquid Bridges, which focused on changes that occur in a fluid bridge suspended between two electrodes. This research could find applications in industrial processes where control of a liquid column or spray is used, including in ink-jet printing.

Crew performed in-flight fixes to problem hardware on the Bubble, Drop and Particle Unit (BDPU), designed to study fluid physics.

Orbiter itself played key part in test that could help raise Hubble Space Telescope to higher orbit in 1997 during second servicing mission. Columbia's vernier Reaction Control System jets were gently pulsed to boost orbiter's altitude without jarring payloads. Same exercise could be conducted with orbiter Discovery during Mission STS-82 to raise HST's orbit without impacting its solar arrays.

No significant in-flight problems experienced with orbiter.

Payload and Vehicle Weights

Orbiter (Columbia) empty and 3 SSME's 160,330 lbs
Shuttle System at SRB Ignition 4,517,152 lbs
Orbiter Weight at Landing with Cargo 256,170 lbs
Spacelab Module 21,272 lbs

More at: STS-78.

Family: Manned spaceflight. People: Brady, Favier, Helms, Henricks, Kregel, Linnehan, Thirsk. Country: USA. Spacecraft: Columbia. Projects: STS. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral. Agency: NASA, NASA Houston.

1996 June 20 - . 14:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. Launch Platform: MLP3. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle.
  • STS-78 - . Call Sign: Columbia. Crew: Brady, Favier, Helms, Henricks, Kregel, Linnehan, Thirsk. Payload: Columbia F20 / EDO. Mass: 115,900 kg (255,500 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Brady, Favier, Helms, Henricks, Kregel, Linnehan, Thirsk. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-78. Spacecraft Bus: Shuttle. Spacecraft: Columbia. Duration: 16.91 days. Decay Date: 1996-07-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 23931 . COSPAR: 1996-036A. Apogee: 261 km (162 mi). Perigee: 246 km (152 mi). Inclination: 39.0000 deg. Period: 89.60 min.

    Columbia carried Terence T Henricks, Kevin R Kregel, Susan J Helms, Richard M Linnehan, Charles E Brady, Jr, Jean-Jacques Favier, and Robert Brent Thirsk to orbit. Main payload was the Life and Microgravity Spacelab for conducting human biological and microgravity experiments. Columbia landed safely at Kennedy Space Center on July 7.

1996 June 21 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Free Fallin' - . Flight: STS-78. "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty. CAPCOM: Kay Hire.

1996 June 22 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Bad to the Bone - . Flight: STS-78. "Bad to the Bone" by George Thorogood & the Destroyers referring to musculoskeletal science experiments. CAPCOM: Kay Hire.

1996 June 23 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Flight of the Bumblebee - . Flight: STS-78. "Flight of the Bumblebee" performed by the 1980 U.S. Air Force Academy Drum and Bugle Corps. Payload commander Susan Helms played xylophone on the recording. CAPCOM: Kay Hire.

1996 June 24 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Space Oddity - . Flight: STS-78. "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. The"Major Tom" reference is to Tom Henricks. CAPCOM: Kay Hire.

1996 June 25 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: She Blinded Me With Science - . Flight: STS-78. "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby CAPCOM: Kay Hire.

1996 June 26 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Back on the Chain Gang - . Flight: STS-78. "Back on the Chain Gang" by The Pretenders. The crew went back to work after a day off. CAPCOM: Bill McArthur.

1996 June 27 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Every Breath You Take - . Flight: STS-78. "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. Refers to lung function experiment. CAPCOM: Bill McArthur.

1996 June 28 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Carolina in My Mind - . Flight: STS-78. "Carolina in My Mind" by James Taylor. Charles Brady considers Robbins, NC his home. CAPCOM: Bill McArthur.

1996 June 29 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Another Saturday Night - . Flight: STS-78. "Another Saturday Night" by Max Q, the all-astronaut band, with Susan Helms on keyboards CAPCOM: Bill McArthur.

1996 June 30 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Les Murs De Poussiere (Dusty Walls) - . Flight: STS-78. "Les Murs De Poussiere (Dusty Walls)" by Francis Cabrel for Favier. CAPCOM: Bill McArthur.

1996 July 1 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: O, Canada - . Flight: STS-78. "O, Canada" the Canadian National Anthem for Brent Thirsk CAPCOM: Bill McArthur.

1996 July 2 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Closer to Free - . Flight: STS-78. "Closer to Free" by The BoDeans for Linnehan. CAPCOM: Bill Gregory.

1996 July 3 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Wake Up Little Susie - . Flight: STS-78. "Wake Up Little Susie" by The Everly Brothers for Helms. CAPCOM: Bill Gregory.

1996 July 4 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: God Bless the U.S.A - . Flight: STS-78. "God Bless the U.S.A" by Lee Greenwood;"Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen for the 4th of July. CAPCOM: Blaine Hammond.

1996 July 5 - .
  • Flight: STS-78. "Birthday" by The Beatles for Henricks 44th birthday. CAPCOM: Blaine Hammond.

1996 July 6 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Don't Bring Me Down - . Flight: STS-78. "Don't Bring Me Down" by The Electric Light Orchestra CAPCOM: Blaine Hammond.

1996 July 7 - .
  • STS-78 - Wakeup Song: Time For Me to Fly - . Flight: STS-78. "Time For Me to Fly" by REO Speedwagon. .

1996 July 7 - .

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