Ed Campion Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1778

)

August 9, 1996

Steve Roy Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL (Phone: 205/544-0034) RELEASE: 96-161 FIRST WELDING EXPERIMENT TO FLY ON SHUTTLE TESTED Astronauts went underwater recently at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, to test procedures for the first welding experiment to fly on the Space Shuttle. The experimental welder, scheduled to fly on the Shuttle next fall, may one day allow crews to make repairs to the International Space Station or other satellites while in space. "We had a very successful test taking us a step closer to our goal of flying this experiment on the Shuttle next fall," said Carolyn Russell, Principal Investigator for the International Space Welding Experiment at Marshall. The test, conducted in a large water tank known as the Nuetral Bouyancy Simulator, evaluated mobility aids, foot restraints and hand holds necessary to perform the experiment in the Shuttle's cargo bay. The test team also gauged the effectiveness of some new hardware, including a camera and a work station designed to accommodate different-sized astronauts. "We wanted to ensure that the tallest astronaut as well as the shortest would be able to conduct the experiment with ease," said Steve Hall, International Space Welding Experiment test conductor at Marshall's Neutral Buoyancy Simulator. "The test proved that regardless of height, an astronaut will be able to see, reach and operate all equipment needed to weld," Hall explained. Testing in the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator has allowed us to simplify foot restraints and streamline procedures designed for the operation of the welding experiment. Every step we can save an astronaut in

neutral buoyancy testing adds up to more time the astronaut will be able to work in space." "By testing the procedures underwater, we verified that we are meeting all the requirements to successfully complete the welding experiment in space," Russell said. "The main objective of the space welding experiment is to demonstrate contingency repair for the Space Station, and this experiment will bring us one step closer to having an operational space welding tool." The space welding experiment is expected to include 61 welding samples and a welding tool developed by the Paton Welding Institute, Kiev, Ukraine. The experiment is scheduled to fly on the STS-87 mission in October 1997. -endNASA press releases and other information are available automatically by sending an Internet electronic mail message to domo@hq.nasa.gov. In the body of the message (not the subject line) users should type the words "subscribe pressrelease" (no quotes). The system will reply with a confirmation via E-mail of each subscription. A second automatic message will include additional information on the service. NASA releases also are available via CompuServe using the command GO NASA.