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Spacelab Module LM2 in Columbia's payload bay, serving as the Neurolab
NamesSpace Transportation System-90
Mission typeBioscience research
COSPAR ID1998-022A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.25297
Mission duration15 days, 21 hours, 50 minutes, 58 seconds
Distance travelled10,000,000 kilometres (6,200,000 mi)
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Columbia
Landing mass105,462 kilograms (232,504 lb)
Payload mass10,788 kilograms (23,783 lb)
Crew size7
Start of mission
Launch date17 April 1998 18:19 (1998-04-17UTC18:19Z) UTC
Launch siteKennedy LC-39B
End of mission
Landing date3 May 1998 16:09 (1998-05-03UTC16:10Z) UTC
Landing siteKennedy SLF Runway 33
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude247 kilometres (153 mi)
Apogee altitude274 kilometres (170 mi)
Inclination39.0 degrees
Period89.7 min

Left to right – Front row: Altman, Searfoss; Back row: Pawelczyk, Linnehan, Hire, Williams, Buckey
← STS-89
STS-91 →

STS-90 was a 1998 Space Shuttle mission flown by the Space Shuttle Columbia. The 16-day mission marked the last flight of the European Space Agency's Spacelab laboratory module, which had first flown on Columbia on STS-9, and was also the last daytime landing for Columbia.


Position Astronaut
Commander United States Richard A. Searfoss
Third and last spaceflight
Pilot United States Scott D. Altman
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 United States Richard M. Linnehan
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 United States Kathryn P. Hire
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 Canada Dafydd Williams, CSA
First spaceflight
Payload Specialist 1 United States Jay C. Buckey
Only spaceflight
Payload Specialist 2 United States James A. Pawelczyk
Only spaceflight

Backup crew[edit]

Position Astronaut
Payload Specialist 1 United States Alexander W. Dunlap
First spaceflight
Payload Specialist 2 Japan Chiaki Mukai, JAXA
Second spaceflight

Mission highlights[edit]

Neurolab was a Spacelab module mission focusing on the effects of microgravity on the nervous system. The goals of Neurolab were to study basic research questions and to increase the understanding of the mechanisms responsible for neurological and behavioral changes in space. Specifically, experiments would study the adaptation of the vestibular system and space adaptation syndrome, the adaptation of the central nervous system and the pathways which control the ability to sense location in the absence of gravity, and the effect of microgravity on a developing nervous system. The science lead was Mary Anne Frey.

The mission was a joint venture of six space agencies and seven U.S. research agencies. Investigator teams from nine countries would conduct 31 studies in the microgravity environment of space. Other agencies participating in the mission included six institutes of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research, as well as the space agencies of Canada, France, Germany, and Japan, and the European Space Agency.

Neurolab's 26 experiments targeted one of the most complex and least understood parts of the human body – the nervous system. Primary goals were to conduct basic research in neurosciences and expand understanding of how the nervous system develops and functions in space. Test subjects were rats, mice, crickets, snails, two kinds of fish and the crew members themselves. Cooperative effort of NASA, several domestic partners and the space agencies of Canada (CSA), France (CNES) and Germany (DLR), as well as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). Most experiments conducted in pressurized Spacelab long module located in Columbia's payload bay. This was the 16th and last scheduled flight of the ESA-developed Spacelab module although Spacelab pallets would continue to be used on the International Space Station.

Research conducted as planned, with the exception of the Mammalian Development Team, which had to reprioritize science activities because of the unexpected high mortality rate of neonatal rats on board.

Other payloads included the Shuttle Vibration Forces experiment, the Bioreactor Demonstration System-04, and three Get-Away Special (GAS) canister investigations.

STS-90 was the first mission to make an Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) assist burn during the ascent.

Three of the seven STS-90 crew (Williams, Pawelczyk and Buckey) appeared on the Canadian television series Popular Mechanics for Kids. Working with engineers on the ground a week into the flight, the on-orbit crew used aluminum tape to bypass a suspect valve in the Regenerative Carbon Dioxide Removal System that had threatened to cut short the mission.

Mission Management Team considered, but decided against, extending the mission one day because the science community indicated an extended flight was not necessary and weather conditions were expected to deteriorate after planned landing on Sunday, 3 May.

STS-90 Mission Specialist Kathryn Hire was Kennedy Space Center's first employee to be chosen as an astronaut candidate.

STS-90 was the first shuttle flight where a bat was observed landing on the External Tank. It is not known if the bat remained on the tank through liftoff. [1]

See also[edit]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ Steven Siceloff. "Bat Hung onto Shuttle During Liftoff". NASA. Retrieved 19 March 2009.

External links[edit]