4" Embroidered Patch for the STS-91 Mission of the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery
STS-91 was the final Space Shuttle mission to the Mir space station. It was flown by Space Shuttle Discovery, and launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 2, 1998.
STS-91 marked the final Shuttle/Mir Docking Mission. This Phase 1 Program was a precursor to the International Space Station maintaining a continuous American presence in space and developing the procedures and hardware required for an international partnership in space.
STS-91 also carried the a prototype of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) into space. The AMS, designed to look for dark and missing matter in the universe, was powered up on Flight Day 1. Data originally planned to be sent to ground stations through Discovery’s KU-band communications system was recorded on board because of a problem with the KU-band system that prevented it from sending high-rate communications, including television signals, to the ground. The system was able to receive uplink transmissions. On June 3 the crew was able to set up a bypass system that allowed AMS data to be downlinked via S-band/FM communications when the orbiter came within range of a ground station. Data that could not be recorded by ground stations was recorded on board throughout the mission.
The KU-band system failure was determined to be located in a component that was not accessible to the crew. The failure prevented television transmission throughout the mission. Television broadcasts from Mir were prevented by a problem between a Russian ground station and the mission control center outside of Moscow, limiting communications to audio only on NASA television.
Other experiments conducted by the Shuttle crew during the mission included a checkout of the orbiter’s robot arm to evaluate new electronics and software and the Orbiter Space Vision System for use during assembly missions for the ISS. Also on board in the payload bay were eight Get Away Special experiments, while combustion, crystal growth and radiation monitoring experiments were conducted in Discovery’s mid-deck crew cabin area.