Upgrading the Columbia

For the flight of the first two mission specialists, certain changes had to be made to Columbia to accommodate the additional astronauts. A flight seat was installed at the aft flight deck station between and behind the two pilot seats, whose ejection seat pyrotechnics were deactivated much to the relief of the mission specialists - their seats were not fitted with such a system! The two overhead ejection panels remained and would be available for emergency ground egress should the need arise. A second new seat was installed in the mid-deck and both had quick disconnect features, allowing them to be removed and stowed for on-orbit operations and easily reinstalled for entry and landing. For this flight, the RMS flown on STS-2, 3 and 4 was removed to accommodate the additional weight of the two satellites and their deployment support hardware.10 Because the large ejection seats remained in place on Columbia, there was only room for one additional seat on the flight deck, so Lenoir would sit on the flight deck for launch with Allen on the mid-deck, and they would swap positions for the ride home. Allen was not nervous about the lonely ride to orbit, as he would not have much to do down on the mid-deck or have much of a view of the events unfolding as they ascended, although he joked about having a security blanket for company.

Lenoir would fly as the first third-seat crew member, a position that evolved into the flight engineer role, assisting the commander and pilot on aspects of ascent, entry and landing by reading off checklists and monitoring the flight deck operations, ready to support any abort situation that might occur. One of Lenoir's chief responsibilities for this mission was to evaluate and develop this role of flight engineer. Both Allen and Lenoir worked together on deciding who would fly in which seat. With Lenoir's experiences in developing Shuttle controls and display systems and Allen's experience as entry and landing Capcom, it was logical that Lenoir's should occupy the flight deck seat for ascent and Allen for the re-entry. The techniques developed by Lenoir and Allen for STS-5 have continued in the MS 2/flight engineer role throughout the Shuttle programme.

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