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Astronauts Jury-Rig Camera but Photographs May Be Hazy

From Associated Press

The shuttle Atlantis astronauts photographed the jet firings and halo-like gleam of their spaceship Friday with a camera missing a vital lens adapter that was left on Earth.

Astronaut Shannon Lucid substituted another part for the missing adapter. Although the focus was hazy, the astronauts snapped away as the shuttle streaked around the world for the eighth day.

The cargo bay lights were turned off and the crew cabin was darkened for the photo sessions.

“We think we got a very good procedure,” shuttle commander John Blaha said.

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The targets included the glow that forms around the orbiter when atomic oxygen strikes the ship. Researchers for the Pentagon’s anti-missile defense “Star Wars” program hope to use the pictures in developing a planned space-based sensor system.

The experiment had been called off Wednesday after National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials discovered that the lens adapter had not been packed.

Crewmen G. David Low and Michael Baker completed their third session in a vacuum container that forces blood from the top of the body, where it collects in weightlessness, into the legs. Scientists believe that such fluid-shifting may reduce the lightheadedness experienced by astronauts returning to Earth.

Low had trouble with the seal of the waist-high, pressure-reducing container during his first two sessions, the second of which was cut short. The seal would not fit tightly around his slender waist.

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Friday’s hourlong test went more smoothly, with little leakage reported. The belt was pulled higher up Low’s torso this time, resulting in a tighter fit.

“Did David eat more yesterday?” Mission Control’s Jan Davis asked.

“He’s been getting into the breakfast rolls,” Baker replied.

Low and Baker have one more hourlong session in the container, scheduled for today. The astronauts will spend the rest of the ninth flight day packing for their return home. Atlantis is scheduled to land at 5:24 a.m. PDT Sunday at the Kennedy Space Center.

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