International Microgravity Laboratory, Flight 1

Twenty years ago today — January 22, 1992 — the Space Shuttle Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying the International Microgravity Laboratory on its maiden voyage.

(IML-1 spacelab module and tunnel in the shuttle’s payload bay. NASA image.)

The STS-42 crew — U.S. astronauts Ronald J. Grabe, Stephen S. Oswald, Norman E. Thagard, David C. Hilmers, and William F. Readdy, Canadian astronaut Roberta L. Bondar, and German astronaut Ulf D. Merbold — “was divided into two teams for around-the-clock research on the human nervous system’s adaptation to low gravity and the effects of microgravity on other life forms.” The crew also conducted materials processing experiments.

The IML-1 experiments were so successful that the mission was extended an exra day — after “mission managers concluded enough onboard consumables remained to extend the mission.”

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