KSC99072303 - 23 JULY 1999 - CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA, USA: Space Shuttle Columbia gushes a stream of fire whose light fills the black sky on its successful liftoff from Launch Pad 39-B on mission STS-93. Liftoff occurred at 12:31 a.m. EDT, July 23. STS-93 is a five-day mission primarily to release the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which will allow scientists from around the world to study some of the most distant, powerful and dynamic objects in the universe. The crew numbers five: Commander Eileen M. Collins, Pilot Jeffrey S. Ashby, and Mission Specialists Stephen A. Hawley (Ph.D.), Catherine G. Coleman (Ph.D.) and Michel Tognini of France, with the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). Collins is the first woman to serve as commander of a Shuttle mission. The target landing date is July 27, 1999, at 11:20 p.m. EDT. iw/NASA UPI.