Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 186


Endeavour (11)


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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  19.05.1996
Launch time:  10:30:00.009 UTC
Launch site:  Cape Canaveral (KSC)
Launch pad:  39-B
Altitude:  280 - 290 km
Inclination:  39.01°
Landing date:  29.05.1996
Landing time:  11:09:18.762 UTC
Landing site:  Cape Canaveral (KSC)

walkout photo

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No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Casper  John Howard  CDR 4 10d 00h 39m 19s  161 
2  Brown  Curtis Lee, Jr. "Curt"  PLT 3 10d 00h 39m 19s  161 
3  Thomas  Andrew Sydney Withiel  MSP 1 10d 00h 39m 19s  161 
4  Bursch  Daniel Wheeler  MSP 3 10d 00h 39m 19s  161 
5  Runco  Mario, Jr. "Trooper"  MSP 3 10d 00h 39m 19s  161 
6  Garneau  Joseph Jean-Pierre Marc  MSP 2 10d 00h 39m 19s  161 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Casper
2  Brown
3  Thomas
4  Bursch
5  Runco
6  Garneau
1  Casper
2  Brown
3  Runco
4  Bursch
5  Thomas
6  Garneau


Launch from Cape Canaveral (KSC); landing on Cape Canaveral (KSC), Runway 33.

During the flight, designated STS-77, Endeavour and a six-person crew performed microgravity research aboard the commercially owned and operated SPACEHAB Module. Endeavour's crew also deployed and retrieved a research satellite and performed rendezvous operations with a test satellite.
Over 90 percent of the payloads aboard Endeavour were sponsored by NASA's Office of Space Access and Technology, Washington, DC, through its Commercial Space Centers and their industrial affiliates. Primary payloads included experiments flying aboard the pressurized, commercially-developed SPACEHAB Module, the Inflatable Antenna Experiment deployed aboard the free-flying SPARTAN-207 carrier spacecraft, and a suite of four technology experiments known as "TEAMS", in the Shuttle's payload bay.

SPARTAN 207 (SP207/IAE) was one of the primary payloads on mission STS-77 and the most ambitious SPARTAN mission to date. The STS-77 crew deployed and tested - as the SPARTAN spacecraft's sole payload - the Inflatable Antenna Experiment (IAE).
This mission's SPARTAN configuration was unique in that the IAE was in an additional separate unit that was ejected once the experiment has completed. Only the SPARTAN carrier with the experiment recorders was returned to the cargo bay.
The IAE was a large inflatable antenna 50 feet (14 meters) in diameter which was mounted on three 92-foot (28 meter) struts. Once in low-Earth orbit, the SPARTAN became a platform for the antenna which, when inflated in space, having roughly the size of a tennis court.
Because the mass and stowed (uninflated) volume of inflatable components was many times less than an equivalent solid structure, inflatable structures have the potential to significantly reduce by 10 to 100 times the cost of future missions using these components. This inflatable antenna weighed only about 132 pounds (60 kilograms) and the operational version may be developed for less than $10 million - a substantial savings over current mechanically deployable hard structures that may cost as much as $200 million to develop and deliver to space.
Additionally, the SPARTAN carrier itself was implementing new technologies. It was testing a Solid-State Recorder using flash EEPROM memory, developed under a Small Business Innovative Research contract between Goddard and SEAKR Engineering, Inc. of Englewood, CO. Some of the electronics boxes on the SPARTAN carrier implemented a Parylene coating process that allowed the use of commercial plastic integrated circuits on-orbit.

The SPARTAN-207 satellite was deployed on Flight Day two of the mission. Mission Specialist Mario Runco released the SPARTAN using the shuttle's mechanical arm, and Commander John Casper backed Endeavour away from the satellite.
Once Endeavour reached a distance of 400 feet (121.9 meters) directly in front of the SPARTAN, John Casper held Endeavour's position while experiment operations with the SPARTAN began. Slightly less than an hour later, John Casper began a partial flyaround of the satellite, maintaining a distance of about 400 feet (121.9 meters), moving to a point directly above SPARTAN. This partial flyaround aligned Endeavour within the transmission direction of the experiment work with the Inflatable Antenna Experiment.
Once Endeavour was directly above SPARTAN at a distance of 400 feet (121.9 meters), the IAE was inflated. Endeavour performed stationkeep 400 feet (121.9 meters) above SPARTAN for about an hour and twenty minutes while the IAE was inflated and experiment operations were conducted.
Following those operations, John Casper fired Endeavour's jets to begin separating from the vicinity of the SPARTAN. The jet firing initially moved Endeavour farther above the satellite, and the shuttle was about 900 feet (274.3 meters) away at the time the IAE was jettisoned from SPARTAN. The jettisoned IAE moved in front of and below than SPARTAN, while the separation burn performed by Endeavour moved the shuttle above and behind the satellite at a rate of almost two and a half nautical miles (900 meters) per orbit. During the next day, Endeavour ranged as much as 40-60 nautical miles (74-111 km) behind the satellite before again closing in.

Endeavour returned to the vicinity of SPARTAN-207 on Flight Day three of the mission to retrieve the satellite. The final phase of the rendezvous began when Endeavour reached a point eight nautical miles behind the satellite and the Terminal Phase Initiation burn was performed by the shuttle, putting Endeavour on a course to intercept the SPARTAN.
As Endeavour closed the final eight nautical miles (14.8 km) , there was an opportunity for four small midcourse correction firings of the shuttle steering jets to fine-tune its course toward SPARTAN. Also during this time, Marc Garneau extended the shuttle's mechanical arm into the position for retrieval of the satellite.
Shortly after the fourth and final mid-course correction, John Casper took over manual control of Endeavour's flight. At the time John Casper began manually flying Endeavour, the shuttle was about 2,500 feet (762 meters) directly below the satellite. John Casper flew the shuttle to a point about 400 feet (121.9 meters) directly in front of SPARTAN before closing to within 35 feet (10.6 meters). As John Casper aligned Endeavour with SPARTAN, Marc Garneau moved the mechanical arm into place to lock onto the SPARTAN grapple fixture. Once captured, Marc Garneau lowered SPARTAN back into the cargo bay and latch it in place for its return to Earth.

The Satellite Test Unit (STU), part of the Passive Aerodynamically Stabilized Magnetically Damped Satellite (PAMS) test, was deployed from Endeavour on Flight Day four of the mission. Although the satellite was be retrieved, Endeavour subsequently rendezvoused three times with the satellite to acquire satellite attitude information during the rest of the mission.
After STU was ejected from the payload bay, Endeavour fired its engines to separate from the satellite, aiming to reach a point about eight nautical miles (14.8 km) behind STU over the next two orbits. From that point, Endeavour will immediately began a rendezvous with the satellite, firing its engines in a Terminal Phase Initiation (TI) burn which put the shuttle on a course to intercept a point about 2,000 feet (609.6 meters) behind the STU.
As Endeavour closed the eight nautical miles (14.8 km), the shuttle had the opportunity to perform as many as four small midcourse correction firings, if needed, to fine tune the course toward the satellite. When the shuttle crossed directly behind the STU, Commander John Casper fired the shuttle steering jets to stationkeep at that position as PAMS experiment operations were performed. John Casper maintained Endeavour at a distance of 2,000-2,300 feet (609.6 - 701 meters) behind the STU for about an hour and forty-five minutes while the experiment work was under way. The experiments consisted of video recordings of the on-orbit attitude of the satellite as passed through the upper atmosphere of low-Earth orbit. Once the experiment runs were completed, John Casper fired Endeavour's engines to separate from the vicinity of the satellite, putting the shuttle on a course that had it range as far as 100 nautical miles (185.2 km) behind the STU.
Endeavour revisited the satellite for further attitude measurements on both Flight Day seven and Flight Day eight of the mission, performing the same basic rendezvous, stationkeeping, and separation sequence starting from a point eight nautical miles behind the satellite. During the Flight Day seven and eight operations, Endeavour had stationkeep at a distance of 2,000-2,300 feet (609.6 - 701 meters) behind the STU for about six hours on each day.

During the flight the crew performed microgravity research aboard the commercially owned and operated SPACEHAB module. The SPACEHAB single module carried nearly 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) of experiments and support equipment for 12 commercial space product development payloads in the areas of biotechnology, electronic materials, polymers and agriculture as well as several experiments for other NASA payload organizations. One of these, the Commercial Float Zone Facility (CFZF) was developed through international collaboration between the U.S., Canada, and Germany. It heated various samples of electronic and semiconductor material through the float-zone technique. Another facility on SPACEHAB was the Space Experiment Facility (SEF) which grew crystals by vapor diffusion.

The Advanced Separation Process for Organic Materials (ADSEP) enhanced separation technologies for medical products. Separation, purification and classification of cells are limiting factors in biomedical research and pharmaceutical drug development. Advanced separation technology was designed to foster separation capabilities for terrestrial commercial application and microgravity research. This particular mission, in collaboration with biomedical researchers, focused on understanding gravitational effects on the manufacture of recombinant hemoglobin products. This area may have significant impact on blood transfusion products where transfusion of hemoglobin rather than whole blood can reduce complications such as blood rejection, infectious disease transmission, and blood contamination in areas without suitable storage capability.

The Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CBGA) housed a number of small test tube-sized fluid mixing syringes controlled at several different temperatures. The versatility of this apparatus allowed investigations on a variety of molecular, cellular, tissue and small animal and plant systems. For this flight the apparatus was configured into four temperature controlled lockers holding 272 individual experiments. Sponsored by BioServe Space Technologies (NASA's Commercial Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder) a number of specific commercial objectives were pursued in partnership with several of the Center's industrial affiliates. These included evaluation of pharmaceutical production of bacterial and fungal systems with Bristol-Myers Squibb, crystallization of oligonucleotides-RNA to gain 3-D structural information for drug design in AIDS research with NeXstar and Amgen, administration of a proprietary chemical to enhance bone marrow macrophage differentiation with Chiron Corp., and tests of a proprietary cell growth inhibitors (cancer research) with Synchrocell, Lockheed Martin and the Kansas State University Research Foundation.

The Plant Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (PGBA) was flown for the first time. This two-locker plant growth chamber has been developed by BioServe Space Technologies in collaboration with the Wisconsin Center for Automation and Robotics at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. The plant growth area of the chamber was 12² by 10² with a 10² plant height and 2.5² root depth. In collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb, the commercial goal was to investigate the change in the production of secondary metabolites in microgravity.

The IMMUNE-3 experiment was a commercial middeck payload sponsored by BioServe Space Technologies and Kansas State University, Manhattan. The goal was to test the ability of Insulin-like Growth Factor to prevent or reduce the detrimental effects of space flight on the immune and skeletal systems of rats. Space flight has been shown to induce alterations in immune responses and reductions in skeletal development in rats; this may model immune disorders and impaired skeletal development on Earth. A demonstrated ability to counter reduced bone formation and immune system impairment accompanying spaceflight may provide new product markets for Chiron on Earth and a future therapeutic for long-term space missions.

Inside the Space Shuttle Endeavour's payload Hitchhiker (HH) experiment carrier managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center were four experiments called Technology Experiments for Advancing Missions in Space (TEAMS). These experiments included: The Global Positioning System (GPS) Attitude and Navigation Experiment (GANE); the Vented Tank Resupply Experiment (VTRE); the Liquid Metal Thermal Experiment (LMTE); and the Passive Aerodynamically Stabilized Magnetically Damped Satellite (PAMS). The experiments were flown together at reduced cost and with the Hitchhiker carrier providing the needed resources (power, data, etc.) to each experiment.

Secondary experiments on the flight included the Brilliant Eyes Ten Kelvin Sorption Cryocooler Experiment (BETSCE), the Aquatic Research Facility (ARF) and the Biological Research In a Canister (BRIC) experiment.

Brilliant Eyes Ten Kelvin Sorption Cryocooler Experiment (BETSCE). The Brilliant Eyes Ten Kelvin Sorption Cryocooler Experiment (BETSCE) was a microgravity experiment carrying an instrument that could quickly cool infrared and other sensors to near absolute zero. It was used to cool infrared sensors aboard spacecraft to 10 degrees Kelvin, or -441.6 degrees Fahrenheit. (Absolute zero is -459.6 F).

The Aquatic Research Facility (ARF) was a joint Canadian Space Agency (CSA)/NASA project with CSA providing flight hardware, NASA providing flight opportunities, and both agencies sharing in the scientific investigations. This was the first flight of ARF, a Canadian designed and built middeck payload which allowed sophisticated investigations of a wide range of small aquatic species. The facility permitted scientists to investigate the process of fertilization, embryo formation and differentiation, development of calcified tissue and feeding behaviors of small aquatic organisms.

The Biological Research In a Canister (BRIC) 07 was the subject of research for NASA at the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. Spaceflight has been shown to effect the endocrine system of crewmembers. This study should aid in the discovery of the mechanism(s) behind one endocrine system in insects which may aid in research on endocrine systems in general, including human systems.

A Coca-Cola fountain dispenser (officially a Fluids Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus-2 or FGBA-2) was developed for use on STS-77 as a test bed to determine if carbonated beverages can be produced from separately stored carbon dioxide, water and flavored syrups and determine if the resulting fluids can be made available for consumption without bubble nucleation and resulting foam formation. The unit held 1.65 liters each of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke.

Photos / Graphics

STS-77 in orbit
Dead Sea Florida
Galapagos Islands Gibraltar


Last update on December 12, 2016.