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Challenger launches on STS-51-B
Mission type Microgravity research
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 1985-034A
SATCAT № 15665
Mission duration 7 days, 8 minutes, 46 seconds
Distance travelled 4,651,621 kilometres (2,890,383 mi)
Orbits completed 111
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft Space Shuttle Challenger
Launch mass 111,980 kilograms (246,880 lb)
Landing mass 96,373 kilograms (212,465 lb)
Payload mass 15,610 kilograms (34,415 lb)
Crew size 7
Members Robert F. Overmyer
Frederick D. Gregory
Don L. Lind
Norman E. Thagard
William E. Thornton
Lodewijk van den Berg
Taylor G. Wang
Start of mission
Launch date April 29, 1985, 16:02:18 (1985-04-29T16:02:18Z) UTC
Launch site Kennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Landing date Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter. UTC
Landing site Edwards Runway 17
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 346 kilometres (215 mi)
Apogee 352 kilometres (219 mi)
Inclination 57.0 degrees
Period 91.5 minutes
Epoch May 1, 1985[1]

L-R: (sitting): Overmyer, Gregory
(standing): Lind, Wang, Thagard, Thornton, van den Berg

Space Shuttle program
← STS-51-D STS-51-G

STS 51-B was the seventeenth flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program, and the seventh flight of Space Shuttle Challenger. The launch of Challenger on April 29, 1985 was delayed by 2 minutes and 18 seconds, due to a launch processing failure. Challenger was initially rolled out to the pad to launch on the STS-51-E mission. The shuttle was rolled back when a timing issue emerged with the TDRS-B satellite. When STS-51-E was canceled, Challenger was remanifested with the STS-51-B payloads. The shuttle landed successfully on May 6, 1985, after a week-long mission.


  • Crew 1
    • Backup crew 1.1
    • Crew seating arrangements 1.2
  • Mission summary 2
  • Connection to the Challenger disaster 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Position Astronaut
Commander Robert F. Overmyer Member of Gold Team
Second spaceflight
Pilot Frederick D. Gregory Member of Silver Team
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 Don L. Lind Member of Gold Team
Only spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 Norman E. Thagard Member of Silver Team
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 William E. Thornton Member of Gold Team
Second spaceflight
Payload Specialist 1 Lodewijk van den Berg Member of Silver Team
Only spaceflight
Payload Specialist 2 Taylor G. Wang Member of Gold Team
Only spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Astronaut
Payload Specialist 1 Mary Johnston Member of Silver Team
First spaceflight
Payload Specialist 2 Eugene H. Trinh Member of Gold Team
First spaceflight

Crew seating arrangements

Seat[2] Launch Landing
Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck. Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.
S1 Overmyer Overmyer
S2 Gregory Gregory
S3 Lind Lind
S4 Thagard Thagard
S5 Thornton Thornton
S6 van den Berg van den Berg
S7 Wang Wang

Mission summary

Overmyer using a treadmill on Challenger's middeck.

Challenger lifted off from Kennedy Space Center (KSC)'s launch pad 39A at 12:02 pm EDT on April 29, 1985. The crew members included Robert F. Overmyer, commander; Frederick D. Gregory, pilot; Don L. Lind, Norman E. Thagard and William E. Thornton, mission specialists; and Lodewijk van den Berg, of EG&G Energy Management, Inc., and Taylor G. Wang, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both payload specialists.[3] Similar to the previous Spacelab mission, the crew was divided roughly in half to cover 12-hour shifts, with Overmyer, Lind, Thornton and Wang forming the Gold team, and Gregory, Thagard and van den Berg as the Silver team.

STS-51-B was the second flight of the European Space Agency's Spacelab, and the first with the Spacelab module in a fully operational configuration. Spacelab's capabilities for multi-disciplinary research in microgravity were successfully demonstrated. The gravity gradient attitude of the orbiter proved quite stable, allowing the delicate experiments in materials processing and fluid mechanics to proceed normally. The crew operated around the clock in two 12-hour shifts. Two squirrel monkeys and 24 rats were flown in special cages,[4] the second time American astronauts flew live non-human mammals aboard the shuttle. The crew members in orbit were supported 24 hours a day by a temporary Payload Operations Control Center, located at the Johnson Space Center.

On the mission, Spacelab carried 15 primary experiments, of which 14 were successfully performed. Two Getaway Special experiments required that they be deployed from their canisters, a first for the program. These were NUSAT (Northern Utah Satellite) and GLOMR (Global Low Orbiting Message Relay Satellite). NUSAT deployed successfully, but GLOMR did not deploy, and was returned to Earth.

Challenger landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base at 12:11 pm EDT on May 6, 1985, after a mission lasting 7 days, 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

Connection to the Challenger disaster

While participating in the investigation into the

  • NASA mission summary
  • STS-51B Video Highlights

External links

  1. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "SATCAT". Jonathan's Space Pages. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ "STS-51B". Spacefacts. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ Fichtl, George H.; Theon, John S.; Hill, Charles K.; Vaughan, Otha H. "Spacelab 3 Mission Science Review". NASA. Marshall Space Flight Center. Retrieved September 27, 2011. 
  5. ^ "NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project" (PDF). Don L. Lind oral history transcript. May 27, 2005. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


See also


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