Spacelab 1 Payload Specialist Astronaut Ann Whitaker
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Spacelab 1 Payload Specialist Astronaut Ann Whitaker:
8 X 10 b/w Photo, Signed by SPACELAB 1 PAYLOAD SPECIALIST CANDIDATE ASTRONAUT ANN . December 16, 1974) In another first for NASA, an all-female crew of scientific experimenters began a five-day exercise on December 16, 1974, to test the feasibility of experiments that were later tested on the Space Shuttle/Spacelab missions. The experimenters, Dr. Mary H. Johnston (seated, left), Ann F. Whitaker and Carolyn S. Griner (standing, left to right), and the crew chief, Doris Chandler, spent spend eight hours each day of the mission in the Marshall Space Flight Centers General Purpose Laboratory (GPL). They conducted 11 selected experiments in materials science to determine their practical application for Spacelab missions and to identify integration and operational problems that might occur on actual missions. Inside the GPL, the four women worked under conditions simulating, as nearly as practical, those that would exist in a space station in Earth orbit, excepting, of course, weightlessness. Air circulation, temperature, humidity and other factors were carefully controlled. The test was conducted at NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, where the GPL is part of the centers Concept Verification Test (CVT), a project oriented to reducing future costs of experimentation in space by involving potential experimenters early in the development cycle of their hardware. She a pioneer in developing methods for predicting the performance of materials in the space Environment, began her NASA career in 1963, joining the Marshall Center as a physicist in the former Propulsion and Vehicle Engineering Laboratory. Her early career included contributions to the Saturn program that launched Americans to the Moon, to the Space Shuttle and to the Long Duration Exposure Facility Experiments — a series of flight experiments to characterize Environmental effects on materials in space. Information gleaned from Whitaker's early research continues to support material selection for present-day space systems, including the International Space Station. Whitaker became chief of Marshall 's Physical Sciences Branch in 1977, chief of the Engineering Physics Division in 1984, and chief of the Project and Environmental Engineering Division in 1993.