April 6, 1998 - "Ready to Go"

Our last full week on planet earth before launch! Excitement and anticipation are the operatives for the STS-90 crew! We kept a busy week with STA runs and entry/ascent sims for the orbiter crew. The payload crew focused on proficiency with the complicated experiments: adult and neonatal dissections, recording from cells in specific regions of the brain, and recording from peripheral nerves. Also, lots of refreshers were scattered through the week, anything from camera use to toilet training!

The bulk of our time is now spent dotting "Iís" and crossing "Tís." All of the crew are consolidating their final notes in preparation for flight. On Thursday we entered our quarantine period, during which we eat and live in crew quarters at Johnson Space Center. Officially referred to as a "health stabilization period," the goal is to minimize contact with ill people who could transmit an active infection to the crew before flight. Moreover, this is a great time to mentally rehearse much of the mission. But the science never stops. For the payload crew, quarantine also meant wearing sleep instrumentation for 3 nights to collect some needed baseline data prior to launch.

On Monday the crew will leave for KSC to begin final preparations for launch. Our orbiter is in great shape; fueling and loading are proceeding well. "Late loading" of supplies, animals, and food is one of the most complicated ever attempted for a space shuttle mission. Accessing parts of the space shuttle while itís vertical on the pad is not trivial! To accomplish this task, people are lowered into the Spacelab using a series of harnesses, ropes, and pulleys. From there they can reach most of the facilities in the lab. These activities will continue until a few hours before flight.

Stay tuned! The main event is about to begin!

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