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Mission emblem
Mission emblem STS-51-F
Mission dates
Mission: STS-51-F
COSPAR-ID : 1985-063A
Crew: 7th
Begin: July 29, 1985, 21:00:00 UTC
Starting place: Kennedy Space Center , LC-39A
Landing: August 6, 1985, 19:45:26 UTC
Landing place: Edwards Air Force Base , Runway 23
Flight duration: 7d 22h 45min 26s
Earth orbits: 127
Track height: 320 km
Orbit inclination : 49.5 °
Covered track: 5.2 million km
Payload: Spacelab
Team photo
v.  l.  No.  Anthony England, Karl Henize, Story Musgrave, Gordon Fullerton, Loren Acton, Roy Bridges, John-David Bartoe
v. l. No. Anthony England, Karl Henize, Story Musgrave, Gordon Fullerton, Loren Acton, Roy Bridges, John-David Bartoe
◄ Before / After ►
STS-51-G STS-51-I

STS-51-F ( English S pace T ransportation S ystem ) is a mission designation for the US Space Shuttle Challenger ( OV -99) of NASA . The launch took place on July 29, 1985. It was the 19th space shuttle mission and the eighth flight of the space shuttle Challenger.


Main team


Mission overview

Spacelab 2 in the cargo bay

The first attempt at take-off on July 12, 1985 was aborted three seconds before take-off because the coolant valve of the main combustion chamber of the left space shuttle engine (engine no. 2) was not working as intended. The already working engines were switched off again.

The July 29 take-off was delayed by 97 minutes due to an incorrect command to a flight control computer. After a flight time of five minutes and 43 seconds, both temperature sensors of the high pressure pump on the middle engine (No. 1) showed values ​​that were too high, which led to an automatic engine shutdown. A good 8 minutes after take-off, the right engine (No. 3) was about to shut down due to problems with two other sensors. This would have forced the mission to be aborted in a state in which it would not have been possible to turn back and land regularly, or to reach Earth orbit. Ground control concluded from other measurements that the sensors were probably defective and immediately instructed the crew to deactivate the automatic engine shutdown. Due to the simple engine failure, the planned altitude could not be reached. However, the spacecraft was in a stable orbit. This incident was the only " abort to orbit " of the shuttle program and the only main engine failure in flight.

The mission management then worked out a new flight plan, which provided for 17 additional orbits of the earth. Despite the difficulties at the start, all the intended goals were achieved. These were experiments from a wide variety of areas of natural science, which were carried out in the Spacelab space laboratory of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The landing took place on schedule at Edwards AFB in California. The Challenger was transported back to Cape Canaveral , Florida five days later on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft .

Consequences of the sensor problems

Problems with the temperature sensors concerned had already occurred on previous shuttle flights. After the STS-51-F mission, NASA decided to develop a new sensor that should be used from the STS-51-I mission.

See also

Web links

Commons : STS-51-F  - collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ STF 51-F National Space Transport System Mission Report. NASA - Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, September 1985.
  2. a b Welch, Brian: Limits to inhibit ( PDF; 1.2 MB), Space News Roundup August 9, 1985, NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, p. 1.3, accessed on August 7, 1985. May 2010.