March 23, 1998 - The first of the lasts - JIS and BDC

Time races on for the Neurolab crew. This past week we had our first "lasts": our last JIS and our last BDC session. The JIS covered the period from launch to the end of the first day in orbit. Between simulated engine failures, stuck payload bay doors, and problems with the Spacelab computers, everyone on the ground and in-flight had work to do! Most importantly, there were enough work-arounds in hand to solve these problems and complete the first day payload activities. A fantastic effort by everyone..we feel ready to fly.

This week included our last baseline data collection as well. We completed tilt tests that study the control of blood pressure while standing; a series of centrifuge experiments to test how gravity sensors in our inner ears control the position and orientation of our eyes, pulmonary function tests, and two experiments that study eye-hand coordination. Our baseline data looks stable, so changes associated with spaceflight can be measured and interpreted with a measure of confidence.

As we approach flight, payload training is starting to decrease, but we’ll continue to keep some hands on our most difficult experiments right up until the day before flight. After months of preparation, proficiency is the watchword of the day.

Our friends at KSC have been busiest of all. Columbia has rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building, with only small problems reported. We’ll be heading to KSC this weekend to participate in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT), a dress rehearsal of the STS-90 countdown. You can bet there will be lots of smiles from the STS-90 crew when we see Columbia on the pad!

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