This area of the Museum is dedicated to Claude Nicollier, first Swiss astronaut and former pilot of the flight squadron 5. The exhibition gives detailed information on the four space missions Claude Nicollier participated in.
The exhibition also shows plans of the space shuttle, many photos taken during shuttle flights as well as other elements related to NASA missions.
Claude Nicollier took part in the following 4 space missions:
STS 046 1992 Space shuttle Atlantis
STS 061 1993 Space shuttle Endeavour
STS 075 1996 Space shuttle Columbia
STS 103 1999 Space shuttle Discovery
Information on mission STS-046 launched on 31st July 1992:
|Space shuttle ATLANTIS:|
|Mission STS-46, 1992|
(49th space shuttle flight)
|Launch:||31st July at 9:56 a.m.|
|Landing:||8th August at 9:13 a.m.|
|Length:||6 days, 23 h. 16 min. 7 sec|
|Distance:||5 344 643 km|
|Number of orbits:||127|
|Orbital altitude:||426 km|
|Objectives:||- Deployment of the Eureca platform|
- Experiment of the tether satellite TSS-1
His determination was rewarded: after 12 years of intensive training Claude Nicollier can eventually go into space! He is the first non-American to have been selected as mission specialist by the NASA.
Organised together by the NASA and the ESA mission STS-46 must first orbit (at an altitude of 500 km) the reusable scientific platform Eureca; Claude Nicollier, who had contributed to the adjustment and development of the space arm, is in charge of extracting the satellite from the space shuttle cargo bay and to launch it into space. After some initial troubles Eureca starts its first 11-months flight during which it will complete some fifteen experiments in a total unattended way.
The second part of the mission is the deployment of the Italian-American tether satellite TSS, a kind of huge metal sphere of 500 kg, linked to Atlantis with a 20-km-long and 2.5-mm-thick copper wire in order to measure the wire efficiency as energy collector while the space shuttle and the satellite cross the Earth geomagnetic field at a speed of 28 000 km/h. The whole should act as a direct current generator and produce electricity. Specialists are expecting 5000 volts. But several problems occur: first the satellite does not want to leave the shuttle, then the cable gets trapped and does not extend further than 243 m.
Analysis will later show that it was due to a design mistake by the winch manufacturer linked with an assembly error.
Indeed 5 months earlier engineers added an element to strengthen the device but did not notice a bolt rubbing against a mobile piece used to unwind the cable. However the failure is not total since the astronauts manage to bring the satellite back on board after having confirmed that the system « shuttle-cable-satellite » can indeed produce electricity when in movement.
Upon landing of the shuttle, Jeff Hoffman, mission specialist, brilliantly commented « it was a failure full of expectations! ».