|Contract award||January 29, 1979|
|Named after|| Discovery (1602),|
HMS Discovery (1774),
HMS Discovery (1874),
RRS Discovery (1901),
|Status||Retired, on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia|
|First flight|| STS-41-D |
August 30, 1984 – September 5, 1984
|Last flight|| STS-133 |
February 24, 2011 – March 9, 2011
|No. of missions||39|
|Time spent in space||1 year (365 days), 22 hours, 39 minutes, 33 seconds|
|Distance travelled||148,221,675 mi (238,539,663 km)|
|Satellites deployed||31 (including Hubble Space Telescope)|
Space Shuttle Discovery (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-103) is one of the orbiters from NASA's Space Shuttle program and the third of five fully operational orbiters to be built.Its first mission, STS-41-D, flew from August 30 to September 5, 1984. Over 27 years of service it launched and landed 39 times, gathering more spaceflights than any other spacecraft to date. The shuttle has three main components: the orbiter (the plane part, and the only part that goes orbit), a huge fuel tank, and two rocket boosters. Nearly 25,000 heat resistant tiles cover the orbiter to protect it from high temperatures on re-entry.
Each NASA space shuttle designation was composed of a prefix and suffix separated by a dash. The prefix for operational shuttles is OV, for Orbiter Vehicle.
The Space Shuttle orbiter was the spaceplane component of the Space Shuttle, a partially reusable orbital spacecraft system that was part of the Space Shuttle program. Operated by NASA, the U.S. space agency, this vehicle could carry astronauts and payloads into low Earth orbit, perform in-space operations, then re-enter the atmosphere and land as a glider, returning its crew and any on-board payload to the Earth.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
Discovery became the third operational orbiter to enter service, preceded by Columbia and Challenger .It embarked on its last mission, STS-133, on February 24, 2011 and touched down for the final time at Kennedy Space Center on March 9, having spent a cumulative total of almost a full year in space. Discovery performed both research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions. It also carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. Discovery was the first operational shuttle to be retired, followed by Endeavour and then Atlantis .
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first space-rated orbiter in NASA's Space Shuttle fleet. It launched for the first time on mission STS-1 on April 12, 1981, the first flight of the Space Shuttle program. Serving for over 22 years, it completed 27 missions before disintegrating during re-entry near the end of its 28th mission, STS-107 on February 1, 2003, resulting in the deaths of all seven crew members.
Space Shuttle Challenger was the second orbiter of NASA's space shuttle program to be put into service, after Columbia. Challenger was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division, in Downey, California. Its maiden flight, STS-6, began on April 4, 1983. The orbiter was launched and landed nine times before breaking apart 73 seconds into its tenth mission, STS-51-L, on January 28, 1986, resulting in the death of all seven crew members, including a civilian school teacher. It was the first of two shuttles to be destroyed in flight, the other being Columbia, in 2003. The accident led to a two-and-a-half-year grounding of the shuttle fleet; flights resumed in 1988, with STS-26 flown by Discovery. Challenger was replaced by Endeavour, which was built from structural spares ordered by NASA in the construction contracts for Discovery and Atlantis.
STS-133 was the 133rd mission in NASA's Space Shuttle program; during the mission, Space Shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station. It was Discovery's 39th and final mission. The mission launched on 24 February 2011, and landed on 9 March 2011. The crew consisted of six American astronauts, all of whom had been on prior spaceflights, headed by Commander Steven Lindsey. The crew joined the long-duration six person crew of Expedition 26, who were already aboard the space station. About a month before lift-off, one of the original crew members, Tim Kopra, was injured in a bicycle accident. He was replaced by Stephen Bowen.
The name Discovery was chosen to carry on a tradition based on ships of exploration, Discovery, one of the ships commanded by Captain James Cook during his third and final major voyage from 1776 to 1779, and Henry Hudson's Discovery, which was used in 1610–1611 to explore Hudson Bay and search for a Northwest Passage. Other ships bearing the name have included HMS Discovery of the 1875–1876 British Arctic Expedition to the North Pole and RRS Discovery, which led the 1901–1904 "Discovery Expedition" to Antarctica.primarily HMS
HMS Discovery was the consort ship of James Cook's third expedition to the Pacific Ocean in 1776–1780. Like Cook's other ships, Discovery was a Whitby-built collier originally named Diligence when she was built in 1774. Purchased in 1775, the vessel was measured at 299 tons burthen. Originally a brig, Cook had her changed to a full rigged ship. She was commanded by Charles Clerke, who had previously served on Cook's first two expeditions, and had a complement of 70. When Cook was killed in a skirmish with natives of Hawaii, Clerke transferred to the expedition's flagship HMS Resolution and John Gore assumed command of Discovery. She returned to Britain under the command of Lieutenant James King, arriving back on 4 October 1780.
Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. He made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.
Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator during the early 17th century, best known for his explorations of present-day Canada and parts of the northeastern United States.
Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope and conducted the second and third Hubble service missions. It also launched the Ulysses probe and three TDRS satellites. Twice Discovery was chosen as the "Return To Flight" Orbiter, first in 1988 after the loss of Challenger in 1986, and then again for the twin "Return To Flight" missions in July 2005 and July 2006 after the Columbia disaster in 2003. Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who was 77 at the time, flew with Discovery on STS-95 in 1998, making him the oldest person to go into space.
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation. Although not the first space telescope, Hubble is one of the largest and most versatile and is well known as both a vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy. The HST is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble and is one of NASA's Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
STS-82 was the 22nd flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery and the 82nd mission of the Space Shuttle program. It was NASA's second mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope, during which Discovery's crew repaired and upgraded the telescope's scientific instruments, increasing its research capabilities and achieved the highest altitude ever attained by a STS Orbiter. Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 11 February 1997, returning to Earth on 21 February 1997 at Kennedy Space Center.
STS-103 was a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission by Space Shuttle Discovery. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 19 December 1999 and returned on 27 December 1999.
Had plans to launch United States Department of Defense payloads from Vandenberg Air Force Base gone ahead, Discovery would have become the dedicated US Air Force shuttle.Its first West Coast mission, STS-62-A, was scheduled for 1986, but canceled in the aftermath of Challenger.
The Department of Defense is an executive branch department of the federal government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government concerned directly with national security and the United States Armed Forces. The department is the largest employer in the world, with nearly 1.3 million active duty servicemen and women as of 2016. Adding to its employees are over 826,000 National Guardsmen and Reservists from the four services, and over 732,000 civilians bringing the total to over 2.8 million employees. Headquartered at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., the DoD's stated mission is to provide "the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation's security".
Vandenberg Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Base 9.2 miles (14.8 km) northwest of Lompoc, California. It is under the jurisdiction of the 30th Space Wing, Air Force Space Command (AFSPC).
STS-62-A was a planned Space Shuttle mission to deliver a reconnaissance payload into polar orbit. It was expected to use Discovery. It would have been the first manned launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and the first manned mission to go into polar orbit. The mission designation, 62-A, meant: 6=fiscal year 1986, 2=Vandenberg, and A=first flight in that fiscal year.
Discovery was retired after completing its final mission, STS 133 on March 9, 2011. The spacecraft is now on display in Virginia at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, also called the Udvar-Hazy Center, is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)'s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. It holds numerous exhibits, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and the Enola Gay.
The Smithsonian Institution, established on August 10, 1846 "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge," is a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States. The institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. Originally organized as the "United States National Museum," that name ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967.
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, also called the NASM, is a museum in Washington, D.C.. It was established in 1946 as the National Air Museum and opened its main building on the National Mall near L'Enfant Plaza in 1976. In 2016, the museum saw approximately 7.5 million visitors, making it the third most visited museum in the world, and the most visited museum in the United States. The museum contains the Apollo 11 command module, the Friendship 7 capsule which was flown by John Glenn, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, the Bell X-1 which broke the sound barrier, and the Wright brothers' plane near the entrance.
|1979 January 29||Contract Award to Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California|
|1979 August 27||Start long lead fabrication of Crew Module|
|1980 June 20||Start fabrication lower fuselage|
|1980 November 10||Start structural assembly of aft-fuselage|
|1980 December 8||Start initial system installation aft fuselage|
|1981 March 2||Start fabrication/assembly of payload bay doors|
|1981 October 26||Start initial system installation, crew module, Downey|
|1982 January 4||Start initial system installation upper forward fuselage|
|1982 March 16||Midfuselage on dock, Palmdale, California|
|1982 March 30||Elevons on dock, Palmdale|
|1982 April 30||Wings arrive at Palmdale from Grumman|
|1982 April 30||Lower forward fuselage on dock, Palmdale|
|1982 July 16||Upper forward fuselage on dock, Palmdale|
|1982 August 5||Vertical stabilizer on dock, Palmdale|
|1982 September 3||Start of Final Assembly|
|1982 October 15||Body flap on dock, Palmdale|
|1983 January 11||Aft fuselage on dock, Palmdale|
|1983 February 25||Complete final assembly and closeout installation, Palmdale|
|1983 February 28||Start initial subsystems test, power-on, Palmdale|
|1983 May 13||Complete initial subsystems testing|
|1983 July 26||Complete subsystems testing|
|1983 August 12||Completed Final Acceptance|
|1983 October 16||Rollout from Palmdale|
|1983 November 5||Overland transport from Palmdale to Edwards Air Force Base|
|1983 November 9||Delivery to Kennedy Space Center|
|1984 June 2||Flight Readiness Firing|
|1984 August 30||First Flight (STS-41-D)|
Discovery weighed roughly 3600 kg (3.6t) less than Columbia when it was brought into service due to optimizations determined during the construction and testing of Enterprise, Columbia and Challenger. Discovery weighs 6 pounds (2.7 kg) heavier than Atlantis and 363 pounds (165 kg) heavier than Endeavour .
Part of the Discovery weight optimizations included the greater use of quilted AFRSI blankets rather than the white LRSI tiles on the fuselage, and the use of graphite epoxy instead of aluminum for the payload bay doors and some of the wing spars and beams.
Upon its delivery to the Kennedy Space Center in 1983, Discovery was modified alongside Challenger to accommodate the liquid-fueled Centaur-G booster, which had been planned for use beginning in 1986 but was cancelled in the wake of the Challenger disaster.
Beginning in late 1995, the orbiter underwent a nine-month Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP) in Palmdale, California. This included outfitting the vehicle with a 5th set of cryogenic tanks and an external airlock to support missions to the International Space Station. As with all the orbiters, it could be attached to the top of specialized aircraft and did so in June 1996 when it returned to the Kennedy Space Center, and later in April 2012 when sent to the Udvar-Hazy Center, riding piggy-back on a modified Boeing 747.
After STS-105, Discovery became the first of the orbiter fleet to undergo Orbiter Major Modification (OMM) period at the Kennedy Space Center. Work began in September 2002 to prepare the vehicle for Return to Flight. The work included scheduled upgrades and additional safety modifications.
Discovery was decommissioned on March 9, 2011.
NASA offered Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum for public display and preservation, after a month-long decontamination process,as part of the national collection. Discovery replaced Enterprise in the Smithsonian's display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Discovery was transported to Washington Dulles International Airport on April 17, 2012, and was transferred to the Udvar-Hazy on April 19 where a welcome ceremony was held. Afterwards, at around 5: 30 pm, Discovery was rolled to its "final wheels stop" in the Udvar Hazy Center.
By its last mission, Discovery had flown 149 million miles (238 million km) in 39 missions, completed 5,830 orbits, and spent 365 days in orbit over 27 years. Discovery flew more flights than any other Orbiter Shuttle, including four in 1985 alone. Discovery flew all three "return to flight" missions after the Challenger and Columbia disasters: STS-26 in 1988, STS-114 in 2005, and STS-121 in 2006. Discovery flew the ante-penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle program, STS-133, having launched on February 24, 2011. Endeavour flew STS-134 and Atlantis performed STS-135, NASA's last Space Shuttle mission. On February 24, 2011, Space Shuttle Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39-A to begin its final orbital flight.
|#||Date||Designation||Notes||Length of journey|
|1||August 30, 1984||STS-41-D||First Discovery mission: Judith Resnik became second American woman in Space. Three communications satellites were put into orbit, including LEASAT F2.||6 days, 00 hours,|
56 minutes, 04 seconds
|2||November 8, 1984||STS-51-A||Launched two and rescued two communications satellites including LEASAT F1.||7 days, 23 hours,|
44 minutes, 56 seconds
|3||January 24, 1985||STS-51-C||Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite.||3 days, 01 hours,|
33 minutes, 23 seconds-
|4||April 12, 1985||STS-51-D||Launched two communications satellites including LEASAT F3. Carried first incumbent United States member of Congress into space, Senator Jake Garn (R–Utah)||6 days, 23 hours,|
55 minutes, 23 seconds
|5||June 17, 1985||STS-51-G||Launched two communications satellites, Sultan Salman al-Saud becomes first Saudi Arabian in space.||7 days, 01 hours,|
38 minutes, 52 seconds
|6||August 27, 1985||STS-51-I||Launched two communications satellites including LEASAT F4. Recovered, repaired, and redeployed LEASAT F3.||7 days, 02 hours,|
17 minutes, 42 seconds
|7||September 29, 1988||STS-26||Return to flight after Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, launched TDRS.||4 days, 01 hours,|
00 minutes, 11 seconds
|8||March 13, 1989||STS-29||Launched TDRS.||4 days, 23 hours,|
38 minutes, 52 seconds
|9||November 22, 1989||STS-33||Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite.||5 days, 00 hours,|
06 minutes, 49 seconds
|10||April 24, 1990||STS-31||Launch of Hubble Space Telescope (HST).||5 days, 01 hours,|
16 minutes, 06 seconds
|11||October 6, 1990||STS-41||Launch of Ulysses.||4 days, 02 hours,|
10 minutes, 04 seconds
|12||April 28, 1991||STS-39||Launched DOD Air Force Program-675 (AFP-675) satellite.||8 days, 07 hours,|
22 minutes, 23 seconds
|13||September 12, 1991||STS-48||Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS).||5 days, 08 hours,|
27 minutes, 38 seconds
|14||January 22, 1992||STS-42||International Microgravity Laboratory-1 (IML-1).||8 days, 01 hours,|
14 minutes, 44 seconds
|15||December 2, 1992||STS-53||Department of Defense payload.||7 days, 07 hours,|
19 minutes, 47 seconds
|16||April 8, 1993||STS-56||Atmospheric Laboratory (ATLAS-2).||9 days, 06 hours,|
08 minutes, 24 seconds
|17||September 12, 1993||STS-51||Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS).||9 days, 20 hours,|
11 minutes, 11 seconds
|18||February 3, 1994||STS-60||First Shuttle-Mir mission; Wake Shield Facility (WSF). First Russian launched in an American spacecraft (Sergei Krikalev).||8 days, 07 hours,|
09 minutes, 22 seconds
|19||September 9, 1994||STS-64||LIDAR In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE).||10 days, 22 hours,|
49 minutes, 57 seconds
|20||February 3, 1995||STS-63||Rendezvous with Mir space station. First female shuttle pilot Eileen Collins.||8 days, 06 hours,|
29 minutes, 36 seconds
|21||July 13, 1995||STS-70||7th Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS).||8 days, 22 hours,|
20 minutes, 05 seconds
|22||February 11, 1997||STS-82||Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST) (HSM-2).||9 days, 23 hours,|
38 minutes, 09 seconds
|23||August 7, 1997||STS-85||Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes (CRISTA).||11 days, 20 hours,|
28 minutes, 07 seconds
|24||June 2, 1998||STS-91||Final Shuttle/Mir Docking Mission.||9 days, 19 hours,|
55 minutes, 01 seconds
|25||October 29, 1998||STS-95||SPACEHAB, second flight of John Glenn, who was 77 years of age at that time, the oldest man in space and third incumbent member of Congress to enter space. Pedro Duque became the first Spaniard in space.||8 days, 21 hours,|
44 minutes, 56 seconds
|26||May 27, 1999||STS-96||First Orbiter Shuttle and first mission flight to dock with the International Space Station||9 days, 19 hours,|
13 minutes, 57 seconds
|27||December 19, 1999||STS-103||Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST) (HSM-3A).||7 days, 23 hours,|
11 minutes, 34 seconds
|28||October 11, 2000||STS-92||International Space Station Assembly Flight (carried and assembled the Z1 truss); 100th Shuttle mission.||12 days, 21 hours,|
43 minutes, 47 seconds
|29||March 8, 2001||STS-102||International Space Station crew rotation flight (Expedition 1 and Expedition 2)||12 days, 19 hours,|
51 minutes, 57 seconds
|30||August 10, 2001||STS-105||International Space Station crew and supplies delivery (Expedition 2 and Expedition 3)||11 days 21 hours,|
13 minutes, 52 seconds
|31||July 26, 2005||STS-114||First "Return To Flight" mission since Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; International Space Station (ISS) supplies delivery, new safety procedures testing and evaluation, Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello.||13 days, 21 hours,|
33 minutes, 00 seconds
|32||July 4, 2006||STS-121||Second "Return To Flight" mission since the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; International Space Station (ISS) supplies delivery, test new safety and repair techniques.||12 days, 18 hours,|
37 minutes, 54 seconds
|33||December 9, 2006||STS-116||ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the P5 truss segment); Last flight to launch on pad 39-B;|
First night launch since Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
|12 days, 20 hours,|
44 minutes, 16 seconds
|34||October 23, 2007||STS-120||ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the Harmony module).||15 days, 02 hours,|
23 minutes, 55 seconds
|35||May 31, 2008||STS-124||ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the Kibō JEM PM module).||13 days, 18 hours,|
13 minutes, 07 seconds
|36||March 15, 2009||STS-119||International Space Station crew rotation and assembly of a fourth|
starboard truss segment (ITS S6) and a fourth set of solar arrays and batteries. Also replaced a failed unit for a system that converts urine to drinking water.
|12 days, 19 hours,|
29 minutes, 33 seconds
|37||August 28, 2009||STS-128||International Space Station crew rotation and ISS resupply using the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Also carried the C.O.L.B.E.R.T treadmill named after Stephen Colbert||13 days 20 hours, 54 minutes, 40 seconds|
|38||April 5, 2010||STS-131||ISS resupply using the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. The mission also marked the first time that four women were in space and the first time that two Japanese astronauts were together on a space station. Longest mission for this Orbiter.||15 days 2 hours, 47 minutes 11 seconds‡|
|39||February 24, 2011||STS-133||The mission launched at 4:53 pm EST on February 24, was carrying the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Leonardo, the ELC-4 and Robonaut 2 to the ISS. Final flight of Discovery.||12 days 19 hours,|
4 minutes, 50 seconds
‡ Longest shuttle mission for Discovery
– shortest shuttle mission for Discovery
|Mission insignias for Discovery flights|
The Flow Director was responsible for the overall preparation of the shuttle for launch and processing it after landing, and remained permanently assigned to head the spacecraft's ground crew while the astronaut flight crews changed for every mission. Each shuttle's Flow Director was supported by a Vehicle Manager for the same spacecraft. Space Shuttle Discovery's Flow Directors were:
|The launch of STS-41-D, Discovery's first mission.||STS-121 launched on July 4, 2006 – the only Shuttle to launch on Independence Day.||STS-119 on the night of March 11, 2009.||Discovery sits atop a modified Boeing 747 as it touches down.||Discovery lands after its first flight, STS-41-D.|
|Discovery performing the Rendezvous pitch maneuver prior to docking with the International Space Station.||The Space Shuttle Discovery soon after landing||Modified Boeing 747 carrying Discovery.||STS-124 comes to a close as Discovery lands at the Kennedy Space Center.||Discovery's final touchdown on Kennedy Space Center's runway, concluding the STS-133 mission and Discovery's 27-year career.|
Space Shuttle Enterprise was the first orbiter of the Space Shuttle system. Rolled out on September 17, 1976, it was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform atmospheric test flights after being launched from a modified Boeing 747. It was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield, and was therefore not capable of spaceflight.
Space Shuttle Atlantis is a Space Shuttle orbiter vehicle belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the spaceflight and space exploration agency of the United States. Constructed by the Rockwell International company in Southern California and delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in Eastern Florida in April 1985, Atlantis is the fourth operational and the second-to-last Space Shuttle built. Its maiden flight was STS-51-J from 3 to 7 October 1985.
Space Shuttle Endeavour is a retired orbiter from NASA's Space Shuttle program and the fifth and final operational shuttle built. It embarked on its first mission, STS-49, in May 1992 and its 25th and final mission, STS-134, in May 2011. STS-134 was expected to be the final mission of the Space Shuttle program, but with the authorization of STS-135, Atlantis became the last shuttle to fly.
The Space Shuttle program was the fourth human spaceflight program carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which accomplished routine transportation for Earth-to-orbit crew and cargo from 1981 to 2011. Its official name, Space Transportation System (STS), was taken from a 1969 plan for a system of reusable spacecraft of which it was the only item funded for development.
Spacelab was a reusable laboratory used on certain spaceflights flown by the Space Shuttle. The laboratory comprised multiple components, including a pressurized module, an unpressurized carrier and other related hardware housed in the Shuttle's cargo bay. The components were arranged in various configurations to meet the needs of each spaceflight.
STS-31 was the thirty-fifth mission of the American Space Shuttle program, which launched the Hubble Space Telescope astronomical observatory into Earth orbit. The mission used the Space Shuttle Discovery, which lifted off from Launch Complex 39B on 24 April 1990 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
STS-51-G was the eighteenth flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program, and the fifth flight of Space Shuttle Discovery. The seven-day mission launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 17, 1985, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on June 24. Sultan Salman Al Saud of Saudi Arabia was on board as a payload specialist; Al Saud became the first Arab, the first Muslim, and the first member of a royal family to fly into space. It was also the first Space Shuttle mission which flew without at least one astronaut from the pre-Shuttle era among its crew.
STS-27 was the 27th NASA Space Shuttle mission, and the third flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis. Launching on 2 December 1988 on a four-day mission, it was the second shuttle flight after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of January 1986. STS-27 carried a classified payload for the U.S. Department of Defense, ultimately determined to be a Lacrosse surveillence satellite. The vessel's heat shielding was substantially damaged during lift-off, impacting the right wing, and crew members thought that they would die during reentry. This was a situation that was similar to the one that would prove fatal 15 years later on STS-107, but compared to the damage that Columbia had sustained on STS-107, the damage that Atlantis had sustained on this mission happened to be survivable, and the mission landed successfully, although intense heat damage needed to be repaired.
STS-30 was the 29th NASA Space Shuttle mission and the fourth mission for Space Shuttle Atlantis. It was the 4th shuttle launch since the Challenger Disaster and the first shuttle mission since the disaster to have a female astronaut on board. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 4 May 1989, and landed four days later on 8 May. During the mission, Atlantis deployed the Venus-bound Magellan probe into orbit.
STS-33 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission, during which Space Shuttle Discovery deployed a payload for the United States Department of Defense (DoD). STS-33 was the 32nd shuttle mission overall, the ninth flight of Discovery, and the fifth shuttle mission in support of the DoD. Due to the nature of the mission, specific details remain classified. Discovery lifted off from Pad B, Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, on 22 November 1989 at 7:23 pm EST; it landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on 28 November.
STS-70 was the 21st flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and the last of 7 shuttle missions to carry a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS). This was the first shuttle mission controlled from the new mission control center room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. STS-70 was also the first flight of the new Block 1 orbiter main engine, designed to improve both engine performance and safety. The mission was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 13 July 1995, only six days after the landing of sister ship Atlantis, marking the fastest turnaround between flights in the history of the program.
STS-109 (SM3B) was a Space Shuttle mission that launched from the Kennedy Space Center on 1 March 2002. It was the 108th mission of the Space Shuttle program, the 27th flight of the orbiter Columbia and the fourth servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope. It was also the last successful mission of the orbiter Columbia before the ill-fated STS-107 mission, which culminated in the Columbia disaster.
Space Shuttle missions designated STS-3xx were rescue missions which would have been mounted to rescue the crew of a Space Shuttle if their vehicle was damaged and deemed unable to make a successful reentry. Such a mission would have been flown if Mission Control determined that the heat shielding tiles and reinforced carbon-carbon panels of a currently flying orbiter were damaged beyond the repair capabilities of the available on-orbit repair methods. These missions were also referred to as Launch on Demand (LOD) and Contingency Shuttle Crew Support. The program was initiated following loss of Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003. No mission of this type was launched during the Space Shuttle program.
Joan Elizabeth Higginbotham is an American engineer and a former NASA astronaut. She flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-116 as a mission specialist and is the third African American woman to go into space, after Mae Jemison and Stephanie Wilson.
STS-135 was the 135th and final mission of the American Space Shuttle program. It used the orbiter Atlantis and hardware originally processed for the STS-335 contingency mission, which was not flown. STS-135 launched on 8 July 2011, and landed on 21 July 2011, following a one-day mission extension. The four-person crew was the smallest of any shuttle mission since STS-6 in April 1983. The mission's primary cargo was the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello and a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Carrier (LMC), which were delivered to the International Space Station (ISS). The flight of Raffaello marked the only time that Atlantis carried an MPLM.
The retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet took place from March to July 2011. Discovery was the first of the three active space shuttles to be retired, completing its final mission on March 9, 2011; Endeavour did so on June 1. The final shuttle mission was completed with the landing of Atlantis on July 21, 2011, closing the 30-year Space Shuttle program.
Graphite epoxy has replaced some internal aluminum spars and beams in the wings and in the payload bay doors.
The air- and spacecraft duo landed at Washington Dulles International Airport at 11:05 am EDT (1505 GMT).
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