STS -66 (English Space Transportation System) is a mission name for the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis NASA. The launch took place on 3 November 1994. It was the 66th Space Shuttle mission and the 13th flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.


  • Donald McMonagle ( third space flight), Commander
  • Curtis Brown ( second space flight), Pilot
  • Ellen Ochoa ( second space flight ), Payload Specialist
  • Scott Parazynski ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Joseph Tanner ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Jean -François Clervoy ( first space flight), Mission Specialist (ESA / France)

Mission overview

This Spacelab flight was known as the ATLAS -3 (Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Sciences ) and went to the question of how the Sun affects the Earth's climate. What is the response of the Earth's atmosphere on solar energy, especially ultraviolet radiation? Above all was the seasonal disappearance of the Antarctic ozone hole and the concomitant recovery of the atmosphere, as well as the changes in the air in the northern hemisphere where the winter just began investigated.

The second main payload was CRISTA that on the SPAS- carrier ( Shuttle Pallet Satellite ) was mounted. CRISTA captured the distribution of trace gases in the atmosphere and was designed and built at the University of Wuppertal.

Mission History

The space shuttle Atlantis was at 16:56 UTC leave the start gate on 3 November 1994. Due to bad weather the emergency landing stood on the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) on this day is not available. The third TAL -Bahn (Transatlantic Abort Landing ) on the Moroccan Ben Guérir Air Base was not fully usable, because the winds were too high. To observe the weather conditions on the Ben Guérir Air Base, the countdown was stopped at the T-5 minute mark for less than four minutes. As the values ​​for the crosswind were within acceptable limits, the green light has been given for startup.

Soon after reaching orbit, the ATLAS experiments were activated. In order to work around the clock, the astronauts were divided during the flight into two layers: the Red Team consisted of the commander Donald McMonagle, and Mission Specialists Ellen Ochoa and Joe Tanner. The remaining crew members (pilot Curtis Brown with the mission specialists Scott Parazynski and Jean -François Clervoy ) were summarized in the blue team.

Four hours after the start checked mission specialist Ochoa the robot arm of the shuttle and took CRISTA -SPAS, the next day (November 4 ) lifted from their French colleagues Clervoy from the cargo bay of the shuttle and was released at 12:50 UTC. The Atlantis flew over Germany at this time. CRISTA -SPAS away from the shuttle and followed him between 40 and 70 kilometers in order to make uninterrupted measurements.

Mission Specialist Ellen Ochoa activated the SSBUV experiment by the covers of the unit were opened to cool and degas. The experiment is used for testing and calibration of measurement data from other NASA and NOAA satellites. As instruments for UV radiation degrade with time, comparative measurements were necessary here. At the same time, therefore, measurements were made ​​simultaneously on other satellites, including on the Russian Meteor - third

On the third day was a first rotation of the shuttle in the direction of CRISTA to record scientific data and to send back to Earth. Four such maneuvers are carried out. First, there were some concerns as to whether the removal of the maneuver is sufficient, since CRISTA not removed as quickly as planned from the orbiter. It was feared that the engine exhaust gases from contaminating the optics of the free-flying satellites. A few hours later it was clear that the distance is sufficient, and the rotation was performed. During this time, the measurements with the various ATLAS monitoring devices were running on. The SSBUV also conducted several series of measurements.

In the following days the experiments and measurements for atmospheric chemistry and physics were continued. Here some breakthrough findings have already been won during the mission, for example, the existence of a vortex over the South Pole is found which contains a relatively isolated from the rest of the atmospheric air mass and can be virtually viewed as a "laboratory bottle ". The free-flying experiment CRISTA spectral analyzes made ​​at a rate of 26 spectra per second. In this way a complete 3-dimensional profiles of the gas composition of the Erdatmosphären could be obtained, which never succeeded.

On the tenth day of flying each layer got off work a few hours, a process that is always used in missions over ten days duration.

When capturing CRISTA a new maneuver was tested with which the docking with the space station MIR on the next flight of Atlantis ( STS -71) should be demonstrated. Here, the orbiter approaches the target from below, the situation engines are less used and therefore contamination of systems such as the Space Station Solar panels could be minimized. CRISTA was captured by Payload Commander Ellen Ochoa again. The satellite had produced 100 gigabits of data.

The landing was planned at Kennedy Space Center, but had to because of strong wind, rain and low cloud cover, caused by Tropical Storm Gordon, are diverted to Edwards Air Force Base.