Space Shuttle program managers today affirmed April 16 as the launch date for NASA's second Shuttle mission of 1998 -- a two week life sciences research flight that will focus on the most complex and least understood part of the human body, the nervous system.

The Flight Readiness Review held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL, yesterday is the final major review by all Shuttle project offices to evaluate the readiness of the flight crew and vehicle, along with launch and mission control flight teams, to support the launch of Space Shuttle Columbia on the STS-90 Neurolab mission.

Columbia is scheduled for launch on April 16, 1998 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39-B. The 2 1/2 hour available launch window opens at 2:19 p.m. EDT. The STS-90 mission is scheduled to last 15 days, 21 hours, 50 minutes. However, mission managers are reserving an option of extending the flight one additional day for science operations if Shuttle electrical power margins permit. A launch on April 16, and a 16- or 17- day nominal mission would have Columbia landing at Kennedy on May 2 or 3.

The STS-90 Mission Commander is Richard A. Searfoss. Pilot for the flight is Scott D. Altman. There are three mission specialists assigned to this mission -- Richard M. Linnehan, who is also serving as the Payload Commander; Kathryn P. (Kay) Hire; and Dafydd (Dave) Rhys Williams from the Canadian Space Agency. Two payload specialists -- Jay Clark Buckey, Jr., and James A. (Jim) Pawelczyk -- round out the seven member STS-90 crew.

STS-90 will be the 25th flight of Columbia and the 90th mission flown since the start of the Space Shuttle program in April 1981.

For complete biographical information on the STS-90 crew and other astronauts, see the NASA Internet astronaut biography home page at URL:

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