October 7, 1995
Web posted at: 9:45 a.m. EDT
From Correspondent John Holliman
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) -- They've been training for more than a year for one of the longest space shuttle missions ever -- 16 days, conducting a series of science experiments in the microgravity laboratory that fills Columbia's cargo bay.
Commander Ken Bowersox and payload commander Kathy Thornton are the veterans on this trip. The other five crew members are space rookies and are looking forward to experiencing weightlessness for the first time.
"There really is little anxiety," said Commander Kent Rominger, the shuttle's pilot. "It's something I've always wanted to do and I'm really very excited about being able to go and do it." (105K AIFF sound or 105K WAV sound)
Most of the work on this trip will involve making things in space. The astronauts call it material science..
"What we hope to do there is learn more about materials and how they're processed, and funnel some of that back to what we do on the ground," said Bowersox.
Examples of material science include crystal growth, encapsulating medicines in near-perfect spheres, testing flames in space to see how they spread, and making more pure versions of chemicals that are useful on earth.
"We're gonna be able to do a lot of interesting science," said mission specialist Catherine Coleman. "We're growing crystals that take a long time to grow. Four or five or ten days is not enough, but 16 -- I think we'll be able to see some good results." (120K AIFF sound or 120K WAV sound)
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