THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Space Shuttle Columbia Launches From Cape Canaveral In 1997
By NASA // April 4, 2016
April 4, 1997
ABOVE VIDEO: On April 4, 1997, STS-83 launched with the Microgravity Science Laboratory on board Shuttle Columbia.
BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – On April 4, 1997, STS-83 launched with the Microgravity Science Laboratory on board Shuttle Columbia.
Prior to launch, and continuing through the early part of the mission, flight controllers on the ground were monitoring an anomaly within the electrical power generating Fuel Cell #2. Despite troubleshooting, the anomaly persisted and Fuel Cell #2 was shut down.
Although the Shuttle had 3 fuel cells, any one of which was enough to power the mission, the problems with Fuel Cell #2 violated several Mission Flight Rules and the mission was ended early – landing after just shy of 4 days, out of a planned 16 day mission.
The Mission Flight Rules provide guidelines when making difficult decisions during space operations. Having such a set of rules, thought out carefully and thoroughly on the ground, before the circumstance arises is a long-standing safety practice.
This was only the third Shuttle mission that had been ended early.
The crew and the cargo for STS-83 flew again later that year as STS-94 – and successfully completed the research that had been planned for STS-83.