STS-93, Mission Control Center
Status Report # 12
Tuesday, July 27, 1999, 11:00 p.m. CDT

Columbia's astronauts glided to a smooth landing tonight at the Kennedy Space
Center, wrapping up their five-day mission to deploy the Chandra X-Ray
Observatory.

Commander Eileen Collins flew Columbia to a textbook touchdown at 10:20 p.m.
Central time on Runway 3-3 at the Cape's Shuttle's Landing Facility, swooping out
of darkness to complete a mission spanning almost 1.8 million miles. Pilot Jeff
Ashby, Flight Engineer Steve Hawley and Mission Specialist Cady Coleman joined
Collins on the flight deck for entry and landing. Mission Specialist Michel Tognini of
the French Space Agency was seated alone down in the middeck. It was the 19th
consecutive Shuttle landing at the Florida spaceport and the 12th night landing in
Shuttle program history.

A few minutes earlier, Columbia provided a light show for residents in Houston as
it sped overhead about 15 minutes before landing, visible in the nighttime skies as
an orange streak headed for Florida. Columbia was at an altitude of about 200,000
feet at the time, travelling about 15 times the speed of sound.

Left behind in orbit is the Chandra Observatory, which was released from
Columbia's cargo bay last Friday morning. Telescope controllers at the Chandra
Operations Control Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts say the Observatory is in
excellent shape in the first week of its checkout for scientific operations.

The astronauts will be reunited with their families overnight Wednesday before
holding a news conference at the Kennedy Space Center to discuss their flight.
That news conference is scheduled at about 4:30 a.m. Central time and will be
broadcast on NASA Television just prior to the astronauts' departure from KSC.

The crew plans to return to Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center
Wednesday morning at about 10:15 a.m. Central time, where the five astronauts
are expected to be greeted by Vice-President Gore, JSC Director George W. S.
Abbey and center employees. The crew return, which will occur at Hangar 276 at
Ellington, will be broadcast live on NASA TV. It is open to the public.

Further updates on crew return can be obtained by calling the JSC newsroom
Wednesday morning after 8 a.m. Central time.

-end

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