STS-75 launched February 22, 1996 and landed back at the Kennedy Space Center on March 9, 1996. Principal payloads on STS-75 were the reflight of Tethered Satellite System (TSS) and the third flight of the United States Microgravity Payload (USMP-3). The TSS successfully demonstrated the ability of tethers to produce electricity. The TSS experiment produced a wealth of new information on the electrodynamics of tethers and plasma physics before the tether broke at 19.7 km, just shy of the 20.7 km goal. The crew also worked around the clock performing combustion experiments and research related to USMP-3 microgravity investigations used to improve production of medicines, metal alloys, and semiconductors. The flight was completed in 252 orbits covering 6.5 million miles in 377 hours and 40 minutes.
STS-82, the second Hubble Space Telescope (HST) maintenance mission, launched at night on February 11 and returned to a night landing at Kennedy Space Center on February 21, 1997. During the 9-day flight, the crew retrieved and secured the HST in Discovery's payload bay. In five space walks, two teams installed two new spectrometers and eight replacement instruments, as well as replacing insulation patches over three compartments containing key data processing, electronics and scientific instrument telemetry packages. Following completion of upgrades and repairs, HST was redeployed and boosted to a higher orbit. The flight was completed in 149 orbits covering 3.8 million miles in 9 days, 23 hours, 37 minutes.
Carried TSS-1R tether satellite; satellite tether broke during deployment, making TSS-1R an unintentional free flyer
Payloads: Tethered Satellite System (TSS) Reflight (1R); Orbital Acceleration Research Experiment (OARE) (part of United States Microgravity Payload 3); USMP-3; Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG) 09, Block IV; Middeck Glovebox Experiment (MGBX) (part of USMP-3). During the deployment of TSS, the tether broke and the satellite was lost.
After a spectacular night launch, the Shuttle completed its rendezvous with Hubble Space Telescope on February 13. Over the next four days five spacewalks were undertaken to renovate Hubble.
The Hubble Space Telescope was released back into orbit at 06:41 GMT on February 19. Discovery landed on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center at 08:32 GMT on February 21.
Objective of mission STS-101 was repair, resupply and construction tasks aboard the international space station. This was the first launch with new electronic cockpit displays and other upgrades. The solid boosters separated at 10:13 GMT and the main engines cutoff at 10:19 GMT. The external tank, ET-102 then separated, with both orbiter and ET-102 in a 52 x 320 km initial orbit. At 10:54 GMT the OMS engines fired to raise perigee to 159 x 329 km x at 51.6 deg. Atlantis docked with the International Space Station's PMA-2 docking adapter on the Unity node at 04:31 GMT on May 21. At that time the ISS was in a 332 x 341 km orbit.
On May 22 mission specialists Jeff Williams and James carried out external maintenance work on the ISS.
On May 23 at 00:03 GMT the Atlantis crew opened the first hatch to PMA-2 and entered the Station. The crew replaced a set of batteries in Zarya, installed fans and ducting to improve airflow, and delivered supplies and equipment. Three hour-long orbit raising burns on May 24 and 25 by the RCS engines on Atlantis raised the station to a 372 x 380 km x 51.6 deg orbit.
The STS-101 crew left the station on May 26, closing the PMA-2 hatch at 08:08 GMT and undocking at 23:03 GMT. Atlantis performed a 180 degree flyaround of the station and departed the vicinity around 23:44 GMT.
Atlantis closed its payload bay doors around 02:30 GMT on May 29 and fired the OMS engines for deorbit at 05:12 GMT. The vehicle landed on RW15 at Kennedy Space Center at 06:20 GMT. Atlantis was to be turned around for the next ISS shuttle flight, STS-106.
Left in orbit was the renovated International Space Station, equipped with an upgraded electrical system, new fans, filters, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and communications gear.