March 21, 1993 has now been set as the launch date for Shuttle Mission STS-55. Shuttle Columbia and her seven- member crew will fly the second German Spacelab mission (D-2) on a nine day space journey dedicated to fundamental research in the fields of life sciences, material sciences, Earth observation and robotics.
The launch window opens at 15h52, Paris time (9h52 local time at Kennedy Space Centre, Florida).
This Spacelab flight- the 7th for the ESA developed manned orbiting laboratory- will carry 92 experiments. 32 of them have been developed with ESA's funding. The responsibility for the complete scientific programme is in the hands of DLR- the German Aerospace Research Establishment- which from its D-2 dedicated space operation control centre in Oberpfaffenhofen (Munich, Germany) will perform all payload operations.
The ESA facilities on board Spacelab include Anthrorack, a laboratory for research in human physiology in space developed for ESA by Aerospatiale (France) as prime contractor. Anthrorack will be used to perform an integrated screening of the human body in space as it is able to take simultaneous measurements of the respiratory, cardiovascular and endocrine systems. The astronauts will undergo different sets of tests at regular intervals during the mission.
ESA's Advanced Fluid Physics Module (AFPM) developed for ESA by Alenia (Italy) will instead accommodate five experiments for research in fluid physics, while six experiments in the field of materials research will be also flown. Two further ESA experiments flying on Spacelab D-2, the Crew Telesupport Experiment and the Microgravity Measurement Assembly, will serve to validate concepts designed for the future Columbus Attached Laboratory.
ESA's astronaut Ulf Merlbold, who flew twice in space with Spacelab 1 in 1983 and IML-1 in 1992 and served as back-up for ESA's payload specialist Wubbo Ockels for the German D-1 mission in 1985, will be in the control room at Oberpfaffenhofen as science coordinator and will support the activities of his astronaut colleagues: the Germans Hans Schlegel and Ulrich Walter from DLR and NASA's commander Steve Nagel, pilot Tom Henricks, mission specialists Jerry Ross, Charles Precourt and Bernard Harris Jr.
The highlights of the Spacelab D2 mission can be followed via satellite daily between 11:00hrs and 17:00hrs (between 14:00hrs till about 20:00hrs on the day of the launch): "ALL- TV", a special TV progamme produced by DLR- and supported also by ESA- will be retransmitted by the German telecommunications satellite DFS2 Kopernicus.
The technical data for the transmission are as follows:
Satellite position: 28,5 degrees E,
Downlink frequency: 11,525 GHz,
Audio frequency: 6,56 MHz
For accreditation at the D-2 press center in Oberpfaffenhofen, please contact by fax DLR Public Affairs office, Linder Hoehe, D-5000-KOELN PORZ (Germany),
Fax +49 2203.601.3249.
During the mission, information can be obtained via the press center at DLR Oberpfaffenhofen : Tel: +49 89.500.4669 - Fax : +49 8153.28.1606.