Selected by NASA in March 1992, Kregel reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1992. He completed one year of training and is qualified for assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flight crews. Initially assigned to the Mission Support Branch of the Astronaut Office, Kregel served on the Astronaut Support Personnel team at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida supporting Space Shuttle launches and landings. A veteran of two space flights, Kregel has logged over 618 hours in space. Kregel will command the crew of the fourth U.S. Microgravity Payload flight scheduled for an November 1997 launch on board Columbia on mission STS-87.
STS-70 launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on July 13, 1995, and returned there July 22, 1995. The five-member crew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery performed a variety of experiments in addition to deploying the sixth and final NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite. During this 8 day 22 hour mission, the crew completed 142 orbits of the Earth, traveling 3.7 million miles. STS-70 was the first mission controlled from the new combined control center.
STS-78 launched June 20, 1996 and landed July 7, 1996 becoming the longest Space Shuttle mission to date. The Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission served as a model for future studies onboard the International Space Station. The mission included studies sponsored by ten nations, five space agencies, and the crew included a Frenchman, a Canadian, a Spaniard and an Italian.
Deployed TDRS 7. Payloads: Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) G/ Inertial Upper Stage (IUS); Bioreactor Demon-stration System (BDS) B; Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC); Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG); Hand-Held, Earth-Oriented, Real-Time, Cooperative, User-Friendly, Location-Targeting and Environmental System (HER-CULES); Microcapsules in Space (MIS) B; Physiological and Anatomical Rodent Experiment (PARE)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rodents (R); Radiation Monitoring Experiment (RME) III; Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) II; Space Tissue Loss (STL)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cells (C); Military Applications of Ship Tracks (MAST); Visual Function Tester (VFT) 4; Window Experiment (WINDEX).
Carried Life and Microgravity Spacelab; human biological and microgravity experiments. Landed KSC July 7.
OV-102 Columbia was launched on a microgravity science mission. Spartan 201 was released a day late on November 21. However the satellite did not start its automatic orientation maneuver because the crew failed to send it the correct commands prior to release.
Spartan was recaptured by hand, during a spacewalk by Takao Doi and Winston Scott on November 25. Tests of space station tools went well, but the free-flying Sprint camera subsatellite was not deployed due to lack of time.
NASA decided not to redeploy Spartan on this mission. During an EVA on Dec 3, Doi and Scott carried out more tests of the Space Station crane. They also deployed the AERCam/Sprint 'football' remote-controlled camera for a free flight in the payload bay.
Columbia landed on December 5, with a deorbit burn at 11:21 GMT. Touchdown was at 12:20 GMT at Kennedy Space Center.
On an extremely successful mission the space shuttle Endeavour deployed the 61 metre long STRM mast. This was a side-looking radar that digitally mapped with unprecedented accuracy the entire land surface of the Earth between latitudes 60 deg N and 54 deg S. Sponsors of the flight included the US National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), NASA, and the German and Italian space agencies. Some of the NIMA data would remain classified for exclusive use by the US Department of Defense.