Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center on March 4, 1994 at 88:53 AM EST and landed at Kennedy on March 18, 1994 at 8:09 AM EST. The shuttle orbited 224 times at an altitude of 163 nautical miles at an inclination of 39 degrees and travelled 5.8 million miles. The mission lasted 13 days, 23 hours, 16 minutes, and 41 seconds.
Primary payloads were the U.S. Microgravity Payload-2 (USMP- 2) and Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology-2 (OAST- 2). USMP-2 included five experiments investigating materials processing and crystal growth in microgravity, while OAST-2 featured six experiments focusing on space technology and spaceflight. Both payloads were located in the payload bay, activated by crew and operated by teams on the ground. USMP-2 experiments received emphasis at beginning of flight; later in mission Columbia’s orbit lowered about 20 nautical miles to facilitate OAST-2 experiments.
The crew worked with experiments located both in middeck and payload bay. These included Dexterous End Effector (DEE), a new magnetic end effector and grapple fixture design being tested for use on remote manipulator system arm; Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet/A (SSBUV/A) and Limited Duration Space Environment Candidate Material Exposure (LDCE), all in payload bay. Middeck experiments were Advanced Protein Crystal Growth; Physiological Systems Experiment (PSE); Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG); Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA); Middeck 0- Gravity Dynamics Experiment (MODE); Bioreactor Demonstration Systems (BDS); Auroral Photography Experiment (APE-B). Air Force Maui Optical Site Calibration Test (AMOS) requires no onboard hardware.
The crew also conducted number of biomedical activities aimed at better understanding and countering effects of prolonged spaceflight.
Columbia was crewed by Commander John h. Casper, Pilot Andrew M. Allen, and Mission Specialists Pierre J. Thuot, Charles D. Gemar, and Marsa S. Ivins.