Crew & Mission

(STS093-S-002 -Sept. 1998) --- The five astronauts assigned to fly aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia early next year for the STS-93 mission pose with a small model of their primary payload-the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF). From the left are astronauts Eileen M. Collins, mission commander; Steven A. Hawley, mission specialist; Jeffrey S. Ashby, pilot; Michel Tognini and Catherine G. Coleman, both mission specialists. Tognini represents France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). The scheduled five-day mission will feature the deployment of AXAF, which will enable scientists to conduct comprehensive studies of exotic phenomena in the universe. Among bodies studied will be exploding stars, quasars and black holes.

The Artwork

(STS093-S-001 -Sept. 1998) --- The STS-93 mission patch, as designed by the five crew members. The STS-93 mission will carry the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF) into low Earth orbit initiating its planned five-year astronomy mission. AXAF is the third of NASA's great observatories, following the Hubble Space Telescope and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. AXAF will provide scientists an order-of-magnitude improvement over current capabilities at X-ray wavelengths. Observations of X-ray emissions from energetic galaxies and clusters, as well as black holes, promise to greatly expand current understanding of the origin and evolution of our universe. The STS-93 patch depicts AXAF separating from the Space Shuttle Columbia after a successful deployment. A spiral galaxy is shown in the background as a possible target for AXAF observations. The two flags represent the international crew, consisting of astronauts from both the United States and France.