51-C (15)

Pad 39-A (27)
15th Shuttle mission
3rd Flight OV-103
4th KSC landing


Thomas K. Mattingly II (3), Commander
Loren J. Shriver (1), Pilot
Ellison S. Onizuka (1), Mission Specialist 1
James F. Buchli (1), Mission Specialist 2
Gary E. Payton (1), Payload Specialist 1


OPF - Nov. 16,1984
VAB - Dec. 21, 1984
PAD - Jan. 5,1985


DoD 85-1

Mission Objectives:

Click here for Additional Info on 51-C

Because of the security classification assigned to this mission, this report contains no discussion of any of the mission activities or accomplishments.


January 24, 1985, 2:50:00 p.m. EST. Launch Jan. 23 scrubbed due to freezing weather conditions. (Orbiter Challenger scheduled for Mission 51-C, but thermal tile problems forced substitution of Discovery.) Launch Weight: 250,891 lbs

The countdown phase was completed satisfactorily, however, two minor Orbiter problems were noted during that period. The first occurred during the T-3 hour hold and involved a force fight in the right inboard elevon actuator between channel 4 and channels 1, 2, and 3. The condition corrected itself within 22 seconds after APU (auxiliary power unit) start up at T-5 minutes. A similar problem with the same channels in the same actuator occurred on STS 41-D (first flight of this vehicle).

The second problem that was noted during the countdown phase was the high helium concentration in the Orbiter mid-body. A pressure decay test showed no significant system leakage. The high helium concentration disappeared when the MPS (main propulsion system) gaseous helium system was pressurized to the flight level.

System operations were all nominal during the ascent phase. SRB motor performance was near the predicted levels and well within the allowed envelopes. External tank and MPS performance was excellent with MECO (main engine cutoff) near the predicted time.

At external tank separation, the BFS (backup flight system) did not automatically proceed to major mode 104. The crew performed the necessary manual procedures, and the BFS operated satisfactorily until the deorbit maneuver when the BFS time for deorbit maneuver ignition was 8 seconds late. However, the BFS operated satisfactorily for entry.


Altitude: 220nm
Inclination: 28.5 degrees
Orbits: 49
Duration: 3 days, 1 hour, 33 minutes, 23 seconds.
Distance: 1,250,000 miles


SRB: BI-015
ET : 14/LWT-7
MLP : 1
SSME-1: SN-2109
SSME-2: SN-2018
SSME-3: SN-2012


January 27, 1985, 4:23:23 p.m. EST (027:21:23:23 GMT), Runway 15, Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Rollout distance: 7,352 feet. Rollout time: 50 seconds. Landing Weight: classified.

Mission Highlights:

First mission dedicated to Department of Defense. U.S. Air Force Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) booster deployed and met mission objectives.

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Last Updated Friday June 29 11:21:02 EDT 2001
Jim Dumoulin (dumoulin@titan.ksc.nasa.gov)