Encyclopedia Astronautica
STS-51-B



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Spacelab D-1 being installed in the Challenger payload bay
Credit: NASA
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Artist concept of Spacelab in orbiter cargo bay with horizon
Credit: NASA
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Lift-off of shuttle Challenger and mission STS 51-B
Credit: NASA
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Aurora over the Southern Hemisphere
Credit: NASA
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Astronaut Norman Thagard rests on middeck while other team is on duty
Credit: NASA
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Astronaut William Thornton observes monkey in the RAHF
Credit: NASA
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Payload specialist Lodewijk van den Berg looks out aft flight deck window
Credit: NASA
Crew: Gregory, Lind, Overmyer, Thagard, Thornton Bill, van den Berg, Wang. Manned seven crew. Deployed Nusat; carried Spacelab 3, conducted materials processing, environmental, life science, astrophysics,and technology experiments. Suffered the worst O-ring erosion experienced prior to the loss of Challenger

Manned seven crew. Deployed Nusat; carried Spacelab 3. Payloads: Spacelab-3 experiments, habitable Spacelab and mission peculiar experiment support structure. The experiments represented a total of five different disciplines: materials processing in space, environmental observa-tions, life science, astrophysics, and technology experiments. Two getaway specials (GAS). The flight crew was split into gold and silver shifts working 12-hour days during the flight.

Orbits of Earth: 110. Distance traveled: 4,651,620 km. Orbiter Mass at Landing: 96,370 kg. Payload to Orbit: 14,245 kg. Payload Returned: 14,198 kg. Landed at: Runway 17 dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, . Landing Speed: 378 kph. Touchdown miss distance: 480 m. Landing Rollout: 2,535 m.

NASA Official Mission Narrative

Mission Name: 51-B (17)
CHALLENGER (7)
Pad 39-A (29)
17th Shuttle mission
7th Flight OV-O99
3rd Rollback

Crew:
Robert F. Overmyer (2), Commander
Frederick D. Gregory (1), Pilot
Don L. Lind (1), Mission Specialist 1
Norman E. Thagard (2), Mission Specialist 2
William E. Thornton (2), Mission Specialist 3
Lodewijk van den Berg (1), Payload Specialist 1
Taylor G. Wang (1), Payload Specialist 2

Milestones:
Flow A:
OPF - Oct. 13,1984
VAB - Feb. 10,1985
PAD - Feb. 15,1985
Flow B (rollback):
VAB - March 4,1985
OPF - March 7, 1985
VAB - April 10,1985
PAD - April 15, 1985

Payload:
SPACELAB-3
Mission Objectives:

Launch:
April 29,1985,12:02:18 p.m. EDT. Flight first manifested as 51-E; rolled back from pad due to timing problem with TDRS-B payload. Mission 51-E cancelled; orbiter remanifested with 51-B payloads. Launch April 29 delayed two minutes,18 seconds due to a launch processing system failure. Launch Weight: 246,880 lbs.
Orbit:
Altitude: 222nm
Inclination: 57.0 degrees
Orbits: 111
Duration: Seven days zero hours, eight minutes, 46 seconds.
Distance: 2,890,383 miles

Hardware:
SRB: BI-016
SRM: L016(HPM)
ET : 17/LWT-10
MLP : 2
SSME-1: SN-2023
SSME-2: SN-2020
SSME-3: SN-2021

Landing:
May 6, 1985,9:11:04 a.m. PDT, Runway 17, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Rollout distance: 8.317 feet. Rollout time: 59 seconds. First Crosswind Landing. Orbiter returned to KSC May 11,1985. Landing Weight: 212,465 lbs.

Mission Highlights:
Primary payload was Spacelab-3. First operational flight for Spacelab orbital laboratory series developed by European Space Agency. Five basic discipline areas: materials sciences, life sciences, fluid mechanics, atmospheric physics. And astronomy main mission objective with Spacelab-3 was to provide high quality microgravity environment for delicate materials processing and fluid experiments. Two monkeys and 24 rodents observed for effects of weightlessness. Of 15 Spacelab primary experiments conducted, 14 considered successful. Two Get Away Specials on board.

AKA: Challenger.
First Launch: 1985.04.29.
Last Launch: 1985.05.06.
Duration: 7.01 days.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Thornton, Bill Thornton, Dr William Edgar 'Bill' (1929-) American physician mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-8, STS-51-B. More...
  • Lind Lind, Dr Don Leslie (1930-) American physicist mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-51-B. Longest wait for an American for a spaceflight after becoming an astronaut (19 years). More...
  • van den Berg van den Berg, Dr Lodewijk (1932-) Dutch-American physicist payload specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-51-B. More...
  • Overmyer Overmyer, Robert Franklin 'Bob' (1936-1996) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-5, STS-51-B. More...
  • Wang Wang, Dr Taylor Gun-Jin (1940-) Chinese-American physicist payload specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-51-B. More...
  • Gregory Gregory, Frederick Drew 'Fred' (1941-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-51-B, STS-33, STS-44. Flew 550 combat missions in Vietnam. USAF helicopter pilot who would fly his T-38 trainer at alarmingly low altitude during cross-country trips. Paradoxically later appointed NASA Administrator for Safety. More...
  • Thagard Thagard, Dr Norman Earl 'Norm' (1943-) American physician mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-7, STS-51-B, STS-30, STS-42, Mir EO-18. First American to fly aboard a Russian spacecraft. Grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. More...

Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Challenger American manned spaceplane. 10 launches, 1983.04.04 (STS-6) to 1986.01.28 (STS-51-L). More...

See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • NASA Houston American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Houston, Houston, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • STS The Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle) was conceived originally as a completely reusable system that would provide cheap, routine access to space and replace all American and civilian military launch vehicles. Crippled by technological overreach, political compromise, and budget limitations, it instead ended up costing more than the expendable rockets it was to have replaced. STS sucked the money out of all other NASA projects for half a century. The military abandoned its use after the Challenger shuttle explosion in the 1980's. More...

Bibliography
  • Mullane, Mike, Riding Rockets, Scribner, New York, 2006.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...

STS-51-B Chronology


1985 April 29 - . 16:02 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-21/51-B.
  • STS-51-B - . Call Sign: Challenger. Crew: Gregory; Lind; Overmyer; Thagard; Thornton, Bill; van den Berg; Wang. Payload: Challenger F07 / SL 3 MPESS. Mass: 14,245 kg (31,404 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gregory; Lind; Overmyer; Thagard; Thornton, Bill; van den Berg; Wang. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-51-B. Spacecraft: Challenger. Duration: 7.01 days. Decay Date: 1985-05-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 15665 . COSPAR: 1985-034A. Apogee: 353 km (219 mi). Perigee: 346 km (214 mi). Inclination: 57.0000 deg. Period: 91.50 min. Manned seven crew. Deployed Nusat; carried Spacelab 3. Payloads: Spacelab-3 experiments, habitable Spacelab and mission peculiar experiment support structure. The experiments represented a total of five different disciplines: materials processing in space, environmental observa-tions, life science, astrophysics, and technology experiments. Two getaway specials (GAS). The flight crew was split into gold and silver shifts working 12-hour days during the flight.

1985 May 6 - .
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