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Experiment Turns Out to Be an Eye-Opener for Astronauts

From Associated Press

Atlantis’ astronauts logged their fourth day in orbit Monday by testing futuristic spaceship technology and conducting a real eye-opening experiment--inserting eyedrops in space.

James Adamson squirted eyedrops into his right eye, then his left eye. A mid-deck camera zoomed in on each wet eye.

“It turns out it’s pretty easy,” Adamson said, blinking and wiping away tears. “You get a little bit around somewhere, but . . . it works OK.”

“Anything for science, right?” Mission Control’s Jan Davis asked.

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“Anything at all,” Adamson replied.

Liquid forms into little floating beads in weightlessness. A NASA optometrist wanted to see how eyedrops would work and asked the crew to videotape the event.

After testing the eyedrops, Adamson turned his attention to fiber optics. He and Shannon Lucid used fiber optic cables to transmit signals through a window between the cabin and cargo bay. Payloads normally are linked to the flight deck via radio signals.

The first fiber optic test did not work because a switch apparently was in the wrong position. The astronauts fixed the problem, and a subsequent test was successful.

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Flight director Phil Engelauf said a fiber optic system could serve as an additional communications link with spacecraft and other instruments in the cargo bay. Although it is intended for the shuttle, “there are opportunities to use this on vehicles like the space station,” he said.

The Atlantis crew is testing a variety of equipment for use on the proposed space station.


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