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Chandra Launch Date Set!!!

July 20, 1999 ::

sts-93 astronauts
Col. Eileen Collins, shown here with the STS-93 crew, will be the first female commander of a space shuttle mission.
Left to right: Tognini, Coleman, Ashby, Hawley, Collins.
Photo: NASA
The announcement we have all been waiting for has been made. NASA managers have set July 22, 1999, as the "official" launch date for Space Shuttle Columbia. This historic mission, STS-93, will feature the first female Shuttle Commander and the deployment of the world's most powerful X-ray telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

orbit path
Chandra's elliptical orbit takes it from a closest approach to Earth of 6,000 miles to a maximum distance of 87,000 miles.
Illustration: NGST
shuttle deploying Chandra
Artist's rendering of Chandra deployment from Columbia.
Illustration: NGST

Columbia is scheduled to lift off from Launch Pad 39-B at the Kennedy Space Center at 12:28 a.m. EDT, the beginning of a 46 minute launch window. Approximately seven hours after liftoff, Chandra will be gently pushed away from Columbia. Over the next few days a two-stage booster will place it in a highly elliptical orbit that will carry the observatory as far as one-third of the way to the moon.

While Chandra's secondary propulsion system is maneuvering the satellite into its final orbit, instructions will be sent to the spacecraft to power up the scientific instruments and allow them to adjust to the low temperatures and vacuum of space. This process will take about three weeks. The first X-ray image should be available in about four weeks.

Related Web Sites
Chandra X-ray Observatory Launch! - CXC's Launch information page, includes live video, shuttle info, status reports and more.
STS-93 Launch Countdown - information relating to the Space Shuttle Launch, processing, countdown and status
Human Spaceflight Web's STS-93 Countdown - includes an overview of the STS-93 mission, payload info, benefits of space explorations, and more.

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