Spaceflight Now: STS-103 Mission Report

Claude Nicollier
STS-103 Mission Specialist No. 5
Posted: Dec. 14, 1999

Photo: NASA
Personal Data:
Born September 2, 1944, in Vevey, Switzerland. Married to the former Susana Perez of Monterrey, Mexico. They have two daughters, Maya and Marina. He enjoys mountain climbing, flying, photography, and playing alphorn. His father, Mr. Georges Nicollier, resides in La Tour de Peilz, Switzerland.

Graduated from Gymnase de Lausanne (high school), Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1962; received a bachelor of science in physics from the University of Lausanne in 1970 and a master of science degree in astrophysics from the University of Geneva in 1975. Also graduated as a Swiss Air Force pilot in 1966, an airline pilot in 1974, and a test pilot in 1988.

Member of the Swiss Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the Swiss Air Force Officers Society (AVIA), and the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences. Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. Honorary member of the Swiss Aero Club, and the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects.

Special Honors:
Three NASA Space Flight Medals (1992, 1993 and 1996), Prix d'honneur de la Fondation Pro Aero, Switzerland (1992), Yuri Gagarin Gold Medal from the International Aeronautical Federation (1994), Silver Medal from the Académie Nationale de l'Air et de l'Espace, France (1994), Collier Trophy (awarded to the crew of STS-61) from the National Aeronautics Association (1994), Prix de l'Université de Lausanne (1994), honorary doctorates from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, and the Geneva University (both in 1994). Appointed professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, in November 1994.

From 1970 to 1973, Claude worked as a graduate scientist with the Institute of Astronomy at Lausanne University and at the Geneva Observatory. He then joined the Swiss Air Transport School in Zurich and was assigned as a DC-9 pilot for Swissair, concurrently participating part-time in research activities of the Geneva Observatory. At the end of 1976 he accepted a Fellowship at the European Space Agency's (ESA) Space Science Department at Noordwijk, Netherlands, where he worked as a research scientist in various airborne infrared astronomy programs. In July 1978 he was selected by ESA as a member of the first group of European astronauts. Under agreement between ESA and NASA he joined the NASA astronaut candidates selected in May 1980 for astronaut training as a mission specialist.

His technical assignments in the Astronaut Office have included flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), participation in the development of retrieval techniques for the Tethered Satellite System (TSS), Remote Manipulator System (RMS), and International Space Station (ISS) robotics support. From the Spring of 1996 to the end of 1998, he was Head of the Astronaut Office Robotics Branch. During 1988 he attended the Empire Test Pilot School in Boscombe Down, England, from where he graduated as a test pilot in December 1988.

Claude holds a commission as captain in the Swiss Air Force and, during leave periods in Switzerland, maintains proficiency in the Northrop F-5E aircraft. He has logged 5,400 hours flying time--including 3,800 hours in jet aircraft.

A veteran of three space flights, Claude has logged more than 828 hours in space. He flew on STS-46 in 1992, STS-61 in 1993, and STS-75 in 1996. Claude is assigned to STS-103, the third Hubble Space Telescope (HST) servicing mission. In order to install new instruments and to upgrade systems to enhance the scientific capabilities of the orbiting HST, four spacewalks are scheduled during the mission.

Spaceflight Experience:
STS-46 Atlantis (July 31-August 8, 1992), was an 8-day mission during which crew members deployed the European Retrievable Carrier (EURECA) science platform, and conducted the first Tethered Satellite System (TSS) test flight. Mission duration was 191 hours, 16 minutes, 7 seconds. STS-46 was launched from and returned to land at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The mission was accomplished in 126 orbits of the Earth and traveled 3.35 million miles in 191 hours, 16 minutes and 7 seconds.

STS-61 Endeavour was the first Hubble Space Telescope (HST) servicing and repair mission. STS-61 launched at night from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on December 2, 1993. During the 11-day flight, the HST was captured and restored to full capacity through a record five space walks by four astronauts. After having traveled 4,433,772 miles in 163 orbits of the Earth in 259 hours, 59 minutes.

STS-75 Columbia (February 22 to March 9, 1996) was a 15-day flight, with principal payloads being the reflight of the 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 mission was completed in 252 orbits covering 6.5 million miles in 377 hours and 40 minutes.

Explore the Net
NASA Human Spaceflight - Space agency Web site dedicated to International Space Station and space shuttle programs.

Press kit - Official STS-103 mission press kit.

Shuttle Media Reference Guide - Complete in-depth look at space shuttle systems and facilities.

Shuttle Countdown Online - NASA Kennedy Space Center site with pre-launch information.

Hubble Space Telescope - Home page of NASA's first Great Observatory.

HST Servicing Mission 3A - NASA site focused on this servicing mission of Hubble.

European Space Agency - partner in HST program and has two astronauts flying on STS-103.

United Space Alliance - prime contractor responsible for daily shuttle processing work.

Thiokol - Manufactures the shuttle's solid rocket boosters.

Rocketdyne - Division of Boeing that builds shuttle main engines.

Lockheed Martin - Corporation that builds the external fuel tank.

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