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Briefings Set for Launch of Next "Great Observatory" in Space

June 25, 1999

NOTE TO EDITORS: N99-37

NASA's next Space Shuttle flight will provide astronomers with a new look at the universe and make history with NASA's first female mission commander. Reporters can get an overview of the mission at a series of briefings July 7.

The briefings will begin at 9 a.m. EDT at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The five-day flight is scheduled for launch no earlier than July 20.

STS-93 will be led by U.S. Air Force Colonel Eileen Collins, the first woman to command an American space mission. The flight's primary objective will be to deploy the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the third of NASA's Great Observatories.

Collins and her crew of four will carry Chandra, the heaviest payload ever deployed from the shuttle, into orbit and deploy it approximately seven hours after launch. An upper stage will carry the observatory to its final orbit, more than one-third of the way to the Moon. Chandra will allow scientists to obtain unprecedented X-ray images of exploding stars, black holes and other exotic environments to help them understand the structure and evolution of the universe.

The first two briefings will provide an overview of mission operations and science to be conducted by Chandra. The NASA Television Video File will follow at noon. The crew press conference will begin at 2 p.m. EDT.

The briefings will be carried live on NASA Television, with question-and-answer capability for reporters covering the event from participating NASA centers. NASA Television is available on transponder 9C of the GE-2 satellite at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, frequency 3880 MHz, audio of 6.8 MHz.

Media planning to attend the briefings must notify the Johnson Space Center newsroom by June 28 to ensure proper badging. Each reporter's name, affiliation and country of citizenship should be faxed to the newsroom at 281/483-2000.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Reporters can schedule in-person or telephone interviews STS-93 crew. These interviews will begin at about 3:15 p.m. EDT. Media wishing to participate must make their request to the Johnson Space Center Newsroom by June 28.

STS-93 PREFLIGHT BRIEFINGS
July 7, 1999

9 a.m. EDT Mission Overview
Bryan Austin, STS-93 Lead Flight Director, Johnson Space Center
Fred Wojtalik, Chandra Program Manager, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL
Ken Ledbetter, Director, Mission and Payload Development Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

10:30 a.m. EDT Chandra Science Briefing
Dr. Ed Weiler, Associate Administrator, Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters
Dr. Alan Bunner, Chandra Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters
Dr. Martin Weisskopf, Chandra Project Scientist, Marshall Space Flight Center
Dr. Harvey Tananbaum, Director, Chandra X-Ray Center, Cambridge, MA
Dr. Kimberly Weaver, Astrophysicist, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Noon EDT NASA TV Video File

2 p.m. EDT STS-93 Crew Press Conference
Eileen M. Collins, Mission Commander
Jeffrey S. Ashby, Pilot
Catherine G. Coleman, Mission Specialist -1
Steven A. Hawley, Mission Specialist-2
Michel Tognini, Mission Specialist-3

3:15 p.m. EDT STS-93 Crew Round Robins (not televised)



NASA TV on the web

MEDIA CONTACTS

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1726)

Eileen Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)