The STS-83 mission was my second flight aboard Columbia and was another dedicated Spacelab science mission which was called “Microgravity Science Laboratory."

During our first day in space I was treated to one of the most magnificent sights ever seen from space.  As the sun was setting at the end of one of our orbital “days”, I watched the beautiful colors of the sunset turn from blue to orange and red and then to the blackness of space.  And then I noticed it. Seemingly hovering above the limb of the Earth was Comet Hale-Bopp. I watched silently as the comet rapidly approached the limb of the Earth and then suddenly saw its bright nucleus and tail disappear. Staring at the pitch-blackness of space I suddenly realized that I had just witnessed my first “comet set”!

Just a day or so into the STS-83 flight, Mission Control informed us that they were carefully monitoring some unusual behavior with one of Columbia’s three fuel cells that provided us with all our electrical power. I was confident that Mission Control could solve this problem and was surprised a day later when they requested that we shut it down for safety reasons and then a short while later informed us that they would be bringing us back home early. It was a terrible blow to hear we would be landing after only 4 days of our planned 16 day mission, but there were rumors already flying that after fixing the problem NASA would be re-flying our crew in a few months to complete our Spacelab science mission. That definitely helped ease the sting of coming home early!