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Susan J. Helms At STS-101

Susan J. Helms At STS-101 (Space)

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Susan Jane Helms (born Feb. 26, 1958 (62 years ago)) is a United States Air Force Major General and a former NASA astronaut. She is currently the Director, Plans and Policy, Headquarters U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Helms was a crew member on five Space Shuttle (8 pics) missions and was a resident of the International Space Station (15 pics) (ISS) for over five months in 2001 (19 years ago). While participating in ISS Expedition 2, she and Jim Voss conducted an 8 hour and 56 minute spacewalk, the longest to date.

Spaceflight experience

Selected by NASA in Jan. 1990 (30 years ago), Helms became an astronaut in Jul. 1991 (29 years ago). She flew on STS-54 (1993, 27 years ago), STS-64 (1994, 26 years ago), STS-78 (1996, 24 years ago), STS-101 (2000, 20 years ago) and served aboard the International Space Station (15 pics) as a member of the ISS Expedition 2 crew (2001, 19 years ago). A veteran of five space flights, Helms logged 5,064 hours in space, including an EVA of 8 hours and 56 minutes (world record).

STS-54 Endeavour, Jan. 13-19, 1993 (27 years ago). The primary objective of this mission was the deployment of a $200-million NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-F). A Diffuse X-Ray Spectrometer (DXS) carried in the payload bay, collected over 80,000 seconds of quality X-ray data that will enable investigators to answer questions about the origin of the Milky Way galaxy. The crew demonstrated the physics principles of everyday toys to an interactive audience of elementary school students across the United States. A highly successful extra-vehicular activity (EVA) resulted in many lessons learned that will benefit International Space Station (15 pics) assembly. Mission duration was 5 days, 23 hours, 38 minutes, 17 seconds.

STS-64 Discovery, sep. 9-20, 1994 (26 years ago). On this flight, Helms served as the flight engineer for orbiter operations and the primary RMS operator aboard Space Shuttle (8 pics). The major objective of this flight was to validate the design and operating characteristics of Lidar in Space Technology Experiment (LITE) by gathering data about the Earth's troposphere and stratosphere. Additional objectives included the deploy and retrieval of SPARTAN-201, a free-flying satellite that investigated the physics of the solar corona, and the testing of a new EVA maneuvering device. The Shuttle Plume Impingement Flight Experiment (SPIFEX) was used to collect extensive data on the effects of jet thruster impingement, in preparation for proximity tasks such as space station docking. Mission duration was 10 days, 22 hours, 51 minutes.

STS-78 Columbia, Jun. 20 to Jul. 7, 1996 (24 years ago), Helms was the payload commander and flight engineer aboard Columbia, on the longest Space Shuttle (8 pics) mission to date (later that year the STS-80 mission broke its record by nineteen hours.) The mission included studies sponsored by ten nations and five space agencies, and was the first mission to combine both a full microgravity studies agenda and a comprehensive life science investigation. The Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission served as a model for future studies on board the International Space Station (15 pics). Mission duration was 16 days, 21 hours, 48 minutes.

STS-101 Atlantis, May 19-29, 2000 (20 years ago), was a mission dedicated to the delivery and repair of critical hardware for the International Space Station (15 pics). Helms prime responsibilities during this mission were to perform critical repairs to extend the life of the Functional Cargo Block (FGB). In addition, she had prime responsibility of the onboard computer network and served as the mission specialist for rendezvous with the ISS. Mission duration was 9 days, 20 hours and 9 minutes.

Expedition 2 Mar. 8 to Aug. 22, 2001 (19 years ago) was a mission to the International Space Station (15 pics) and Helms was as a member of the second crew to inhabit the International Space Station (15 pics) Alpha. The Expedition 2 crew (two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut) launched on Mar. 8, 2001 (19 years ago) on board STS-102 Discovery and successfully docked with the station on Mar. 9, 2001 (19 years ago). The Expedition 2 crew installed and conducted tests on the Canadian made Space Station Robotic arm (SSRMS), conducted internal and external maintenance tasks (Russian and American), in addition to medical and science experiments. During her stay on board the Space Station, Helms installed the Airlock (brought up on the STS-104 mission) using the SSRM. She and her crewmates also performed a 'fly around' of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and welcomed the visiting Soyuz crew that included the first space tourist, Dennis Tito. On Mar. 11 she performed a world record 8 hour and 56 minute space walk to install hardware to the external body of the laboratory module. Helms spent a total of 163 days aboard the Space Station. She returned to earth with the STS-105 crew aboard Discovery on Aug. 22, 2001 (19 years ago).

Personal life

Helms was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, but considers Portland, Oregon, to be her hometown. She enjoys piano and other musical activities, jogging, traveling, reading, computers, and cooking. Her parents, Lt. Col. (Ret., USAF) Pat and Dori Helms, reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Helms has three sisters.




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