The STS-65 mission of Space Shuttle Columbia was a dedicated Spacelab science flight called the Second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2).

During this 15 day mission the crew conducted experiments from around the world involving liquids, metals, plants, fruit flies, jellyfish, goldfish, and even some Japanese Red-Bellied Newts that we nicknamed “Astro Newts.” Working in the Spacelab module located in Columbia’s payload bay, we worked around the clock in two shifts. This highly successful mission helped pave the way for future science operations aboard the International Space Station.

Less than 10 minutes after we had achieved orbit, I peered out of Columbia’s overhead windows and got my first glimpse of the Earth. I could only gasp and say aloud “My God, how beautiful !” The sky was a darker black than I had ever seen and the ultra-thin atmosphere surrounding our planet seemed to glow a beautiful fluorescent blue. About an hour later I watched as we passed over the Kennedy Space Center and could see Launch Pad 39A 200 miles below as we completed our first full orbit of the Earth. I had made it to space!