From October 20 to November 5, 1995, Lopez-Alegria served as a mission specialist and flight engineer aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-73, the second United States Microgravity Laboratory mission. The mission focused on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, the physics of fluids, and numerous scientific experiments housed in the pressurized Spacelab module. Lopez-Alegria served as the flight engineer during the ascent and entry phases of flight, and was responsible for all operations of the "blue" shift on orbit. In completing his first space flight, Lopez-Alegria orbited the Earth 256 times, traveled over 6 million miles, and logged a total of 15 days, 21 hours, 52 minutes and 21 seconds in space.
Lopez-Alegria currently serves as NASA Director of Operations at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Star City, Russia.
Carried USML-2 for microgravity experiments (attached to Columbia). Payloads: United States Microgravity Laboratory (USML) 2, Orbital Acceleration Research Experiment (OARE).
STS-92 was a space station assembly flight to bring the Z-1 Truss (mounted on a Spacelab pallet), Control Moment Gyros, Pressurised Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3) and two DDCU (Heat pipes) to the International Space Station.
The RSRM-76 solid rocket boosters separated at 23:19 GMT and main engine cut-off (MECO) came at 23:25 GMT. External tank ET-104 separated into a 74 x 323 km x 51.6 deg orbit. At apogee at 00:01 GMT on Oct 12, Discovery's OMS engines fired to raise perigee to a 158 x 322 km x 51.6 deg orbit; ET-104 re-entered over the Pacific around 00:30 GMT. At Oct 12 on 03:01 GMT the NC1 burn raised the orbit to 180 x 349 km; NC3 on Oct 12 to 311 x 375 km; and the TI burn at 14:09 GMT on Oct 13 to 375 x 381 km x 51.6 deg. Discovery's rendezvous with the International Space Station came at 15:39 GMT on Oct 13, with docking at 17:45 GMT. The spaceship docked with PMA-2, the docking port on the +Y port of the Space Station's Unity module. Hatch was open to PMA-2 at 20:30 GMT the same day.
STS-92 Cargo Manifest
Total payload bay cargo: ca. 14,800 kg
The Z1 first segment of the space station truss was built by Boeing/Canoga Park and was 3.5 x 4.5 meters in size. It was attached to the +Z port on Unity. Z1 carried the control moment gyros, the S-band antenna, and the Ku-band antenna.
PMA-3, built by Boeing/Huntington Beach, was docked to the -Z port opposite Z1. PMA-3 was installed on a Spacelab pallet for launch.
On October 14 at 16:15 GMT the Z1 segment was unberthed from the payload bay and at around 18:20 GMT it was docked to the zenith port on the Unity module.
On October 15 at 14:20 GMT the ODS airlock was depressurised, beginning a spacewalk by Bill McArthur and Leroy Chiao. Official NASA EVA duration (battery power to repress) was 6 hours 28 minutes.
The second spacewalk was on October 16, with Jeff Wisoff and Mike Lopez-Alegria. The suits went to battery power at 14:15 GMT and Wisoff left the airlock at 14:21 GMT. Repressurisation began at 21:22 GMT for a duration of 7 hours 07minutes.
Leroy Chiao and Bill McArthur began the third STS-92 EVA at 15:30 GMT on October 17, completing their work at 22:18 GMT for a total time of 6 hours 48 minutes.
After the spacewalk, Discovery completed the second of the three station reboosts scheduled for STS-92. They fired reaction control system jets in a series of pulses of 1.4 seconds each, over a 30-minute period, gently raising the station's orbit by about 3.1 km.
The last of four successful spacewalks began on 18 October at 16:00 GMT and ended at 22:56 GMT, lasting 6 hours and 56 minutes. Jeff Wisoff and Mike Lopez-Alegria each jetted slowly through space above Discovery's cargo bay.
After the space walk, Discovery completed the third and final reboost of the space station.
On 19 October the astronauts worked within the ISS. They completed connections for the newly installed Z1 external framework structure and transferred equipment and supplies for the Expedition One first resident crew of the Station. The crew also tested the four 290-kg gyroscopes in the truss, called Control Moment Gyros, which will be used to orient the ISS as it orbits the Earth. They will ultimately assume attitude control of the ISS following the arrival of the U.S. Laboratory Destiny. The tests and the transfer of supplies into the Russian Zarya Module took longer than expected. As a result, the crew's final departure from the Station's Unity module was delayed. Melroy and Wisoff took samples from surfaces in Zarya to study the module's environment. They then unclogged the solid waste disposal system in the Shuttle's toilet, which was restored to full operation after a brief interruption in service.
Discovery undocked from the ISS at 16:08 GMT on 20 October. The final separation burn was executed about 45 minutes after undocking. The crew had added 9 tonnes to the station's mass, bringing it to about 72 tonnes. The return to earth, planned for 22 October, was delayed repeatedly due to high winds at the Kennedy landing site. The landing was finally made at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on October 24, at 22:00 GMT.
Wakata aboard the shuttle used the RMS arm to unberth the PMA-3 docking unit from the SLP pallet at 16:14 GMT, and docked it to Unity at 17:40 GMT. Wisoff and Lopez-Alegria first unbolted PMA-3 from the SLP and then guided Wakata through the delicate alignment process as PMA-3 was removed from the bay and attached to the Station.
Jeff Wisoff and Mike Lopez-Alegria each jetted slowly through space above Discovery's cargo bay, demonstrating the small rescue nitrogen powered SAFER backpack (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue). This would be used in the future to help a drifting astronaut regain the safety of the spacecraft. Each astronaut performed one 15 meter flight with the SAFER while attached to the shuttle with a long tether. Lopez-Alegria and Wisoff, with Koichi Wakata operating the arm, also completed a series of wrap-up tasks during the EVA. They removed a grapple fixture from the Z1 truss, opened and closed a latch assembly that will hold the solar array truss when it arrives, deployed a tray that will be used to provide power to the U.S. Laboratory Destiny, and tested the manual berthing mechanism latches that will support Destiny. Wisoff opened and closed the latches on the capture assembly for the P6 solar arrays using a pistol grip tool. With it he made more than 125 turns to open the latches, then closed and reopened them. He left the capture latch, called 'the claw,' ready to receive the solar arrays, to be installed by the STS-97 crew. An exercise to test techniques for returning an incapacitated astronaut to the air lock was cancelled because of time constraints.