Shuttle astronaut/Museum of Flight President and CEO will present a unique crew perspective of this 1990 historic Space Shuttle mission aboard Columbia
SEATTLE, Jan. 18, 2010
--The Museum of Flight President and CEO Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar was a NASA Mission Specialist Astronaut onboard the January 1990 Space Shuttle mission, STS-32--the longest Shuttle flight to that date. During the Jan. 31 program, Dr. Dunbar will share her unique perspective and experiences about this significant mission which contributed to our understanding of micrometeoroids and orbital debris in low earth orbit, how that knowledge has helped us to build better satellites and space stations, and how the medical experiments conducted by the crew helped shuttle astronauts to fly longer flights. The presentation will include photos and videos taken during the mission followed by a question and answer session.
The program is at 2 p.m. in the William M. Allen Theater, and is free with admission to the Museum. The presentation is part of a weekend of activities at the Museum honoring National Astronaut Remembrance Day--Jan. 28--which recognizes the astronauts who gave their lives in the line of duty.
During the 11-day STS-32 mission a NAVY communications satellite, Syncom, was launched from the Shuttle, and a science satellite--the nearly 30 foot long, 14 feet in diameter, Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF)--was retrieved using the Shuttle's Canadian-developed remote manipulator system (RMS) operated by Dr. Dunbar. The five-person crew conducted a variety of medical experiments organized under a new program called The Extended Duration Orbiter, or EDO. The program was organized to help extend the Space Shuttle missions by understanding the effects of weightlessness on the human body. STS-32 was Dr. Dunbar's second of five orbital missions. Dr. Dunbar is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and is a member of both the U.S. National Academy of Engineers (NAE) and the Royal Academy of Edinburgh, Scotland.
NASA Long Duration Exposure Facility
NASA's Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) was designed to provide long-term data on the space environment and its effects on space systems and operations. It successfully carried science and technology experiments that have revealed a broad and detailed collection of space environmental data. The LDEF concept evolved from a spacecraft proposed by NASA Langley Research Center in 1970 to study the meteoroid environment, the Meteoroid and Exposure Module.
LDEF had a nearly cylindrical structure, and its 57 experiments were mounted in 86 trays about its periphery and on the two ends. The spacecraft measured 30 feet by 14 feet and weighed 21,500 pounds with mounted experiments, and remains one of the largest Shuttle-deployed payloads. The experiments involved the participation of more than 200 principal investigators from 33 private companies, 21 universities, seven NASA centers, nine Department of Defense laboratories and eight foreign countries. The post-flight special investigations and continued principal investigator research have increased the total number of investigators to between 300 - 400.
LDEF was deployed in orbit on April 7, 1984 by the Shuttle Challenger. It remained in space for 5.7 years and completed 32,422 Earth orbits; this extended stay increased its scientific and technological value toward the understanding of the space environment and its effects. LDEF was retrieved on Jan. 11, 1990 by the Shuttle Columbia. By the time LDEF was retrieved, its orbit had decayed to 175 nautical miles and was a little more than one month away from reentering the Earth's atmosphere. Columbia landed at Edwards Air Force Base and was ferried back to NASA Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 26, 1990.
Image: STS-32 Crew photo with Commander Daniel C. Brandenstein, Pilot James D. Wetherbee, Mission Specialists Bonnie J. Dunbar, G. David Low and Marsha S. Ivins. Image Credit: NASA
The Museum of Flight is located at 9404 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, Exit 158 off Interstate 5 (on Boeing Field between downtown Seattle and SeaTac Airport.) The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for active military, $8 for youth 5 to 17, and free for children under 5. Group rates are available. Admission on the first Thursday of the month is free from 5 to 9 p.m. courtesy of Wells Fargo. For general Museum information, please call 206-764-5720 or visit www.museumofflight.org.