part of the vehicle with a non-invasive laser beam, it was hoped to acquire clear, defined images even in low-visibility conditions. Ultimately, it was expected this might enable NASA to relax several of its launch constraints. For the first test of the hardware, imaging equipment was mounted at three sites at KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. These illuminated Columbia's aft section and the SRB 'skirts' at specific points during the countdown and ascent.
"This is a great sunny Florida afternoon here on the Space Coast,'' said Loren Shriver, the head of NASA's Mission Management Team. "We're happy to have this one off... the ascent went very well.'' Within two-and-a-half hours of reaching orbit, the Blue Team had opened the hatch to the Spacelab module and were activating its research facilities for what Voss described as a mission that covered ''the entire spectrum of the sorts of experiments we do on the Shuttle these days and looking forward to [the] space station''.
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