Flawless Mission

Combustion science was another focus of Glovebox research and, in recognition of his efforts, Leslie received a collective 'high-five' for his ''outstanding work'' on 2 November, according to team members of the Fibre-Support Droplet Combustion (FSDC) experiment. ''Fred gets an A+ in combustion theory!'' they exclaimed. He had been busily placing droplets of fuel on a thin fibre, using needles in the experiment module and igniting them with a hot wire. Despite early difficulties with clogged drop accumulators, he performed a number of excellent 'burns', varying the quantities of methanol and methanol-water fuel with each run.

Meanwhile, Columbia herself was performing near-flawlessly on her 18th journey into space. On 23 October, Bowersox told Capcom Tom Jones and Flight Director Rob Kelso that he was impressed by her rock-steady nature. A couple of days later, the crew took time out to tape the ceremonial first pitch for Game Five of the baseball World Series. Uniquely, it marked the first time that the thrower -Bowersox in this case - was not actually in the ballpark for the pitch. The video from Columbia was replayed on the enormous Jacobs Field Jumbotron screen in Cleveland before the game.

Before throwing the slow-spinning pitch, Bowersox wished both the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians good luck; the entire crew later signed their onboard baseballs and gave them to Major League Baseball to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

As the mission's second week aloft wound down, the crew was asked to place Columbia in several different attitudes to increase temperatures across her belly; flight controllers were concerned that her tyre pressures were lower than acceptable for landing. Thermal conditioning of the belly brought them up from 328 to 334 psi, which were well within the required landing pressure minimum limit of 330 psi. The science crew, meanwhile, finished the remaining USML-2 experiments and the

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