Spaceflight Now

Spaceflight Now +

Premium video content for our Spaceflight Now Plus subscribers.

STS-51F: Shuttle becomes observatory
Space shuttle Challenger was transformed into an orbiting observatory to study the sun, stars and space environment during the Spacelab 2 mission in the summer of 1985. But getting into space wasn't easy. The shuttle suffered an engine shutdown on the launch pad, then during ascent two weeks later lost one of its three main engines. It marked the first Abort To Orbit in shuttle history. In this post-flight film, the crew of STS-51F narrates highlights of the mission that includes tests using a small plasma-monitoring satellite was launched from Challenger's robot arm.

 Small | Medium | Large

STS-51G: Space truck
A seven-person crew featuring payload specialists from France and Saudi Arabia flew aboard the June 1985 mission of space shuttle Discovery. They narrate the highlights of STS-51G in this post-flight film. Three communications satellites -- for Mexico, the Arab countries and the U.S. -- were launched from the payload bay. And the SPARTAN 1 astrophysics spacecraft was deployed from the shuttle's robot arm for a two-day freeflight to make its science observations before being retrieved and returned to Earth.

 Small | Medium | Large

STS-51B: Monkeys, bubbles and auroras
The flight of Spacelab 3 aboard Challenger in April/May 1985 was a week-long scientific research mission using a laboratory tucked in the shuttle's payload bay. Experiments focused on material and fluid behaviors in weightlessness, plus observations of monkeys in the lab. The crew also watched amazing auroral displays over Earth. This post-flight crew film shows the highlights of STS-51B and includes remarkable views out the shuttle cockpit window during launch showing the Chesapeake Bay, New York City and Cape Cod as Challenger soared up the eastern seaboard.

 Small | Medium | Large

STS-51D: Flyswatter spacewalk
Discovery launched April 12, 1985 on the STS-51D mission. A U.S. military communications satellite, known as Leasat 3, failed to activate after its deployment from the payload bay. That set the stage for a spacewalk -- the shuttle program's first unplanned EVA -- to attach handcrafted "Flyswatter" objects on the shuttle robotic arm to hit a timing switch on the satellite. The rescue attempt did not succeed. Upon landing at Kennedy Space Center, Discovery blew a tire. The crew, including Senator Jake Garn of Utah, narrate this post-flight film of highlights from the week-long mission.

 Small | Medium | Large

STS-51A: Daring mission
Soon after the Palapa and Westar communications satellites got stranded in worthless orbits following their deployment from shuttle Challenger in February 1984, planners began devising a rescue mission to launch that November. The STS-51A flight of shuttle Discovery is arguably one of the most daring and complex space missions ever attempted. The crew successfully launched two communications satellites and then retrieved Palapa and Westar during extraordinary spacewalks using jet-propelled backpacks and hands-on muscle power. Watch the amazing flight unfold with narration by the crew in this post-flight film.

 Small | Medium | Large

Become a subscriber
More video

STS-121 Timeline Overview
Posted: May 11, 2006

Editor's Note...
NASA hopes to reinsert a third spacewalk if the crew can conserve enough power for a one-day mission extension. If so, EVA-3 will take place on Flight Day 9. Events listed below for FD-9 through FD-13 would simply shift one day to the right. Source: NASA

Generic mission requirements:

  • 15 CWCs and 6 PWRs filled and transferred to ISS
  • About 98 man hours required for MPLM transfer operations and 30 hours for middeck transfers.
  • EVAs staged out of ISS airlock using CEVIS exercise pre-breathe protocol
  • SRMS used for OBSS operations and EVA camera views. SSRMS used for MPLM operations, OBSS survey camera views and EVA robotics

    July 1 Flight Day 1

    • Crew downloads ET umbilical photos and wing leading edge sensor data ASAP. Crew also loads ET handheld camera still photos for downlink. ET handheld video footage downlinked during KU-band antenna coverage
    • Photo/TV setup for OBSS survey on flight day 2
    • MPLM environmental checks
    • Shuttle robot arm (SRMS) is powered up and initialized
    • Water spray boiler test
    July 2 Flight Day 2

    • RMS checkout prior to OBSS activity
    • Fuel cell purge and computer network setup (if not already complete)
    • OBSS survey: All starboard wing, nose cap and port wing reinforced carbon carbon are surveyed with OBSS LDRI. Scans of the starboard wing and and nose cap are performed first because they cannot be done while docked; two crew members required for OBSS/SRMS operations, one crew member for LDRI; no sun within +/- 10 degrees of LDRI field of view
    • Any survey data not downlinked in real time is replayed prior to crew sleep
    • LCS sensor is a backup to the LDRI system; no lighting constraints on LCS; downlink via OCA; digital camera (IDC) is available for high-detail views but no nominal operations are planned
    • SRMS survey of crew cabin with realtime KU downlink
    • OMS pod tiles surveyed from aft flight deck
    • Two spacesuits are checked out
    • Airlock fan turned off to save power
    • Rendezvous preparations (tool checkout, docking ring extension, centerline camera installation, rendezvous rocket firings
    • Items prepared for transfer to ISS
    July 3 Flight Day 3

    • Condensate collection system set up
    • Two spacesuits removed from shuttle airlock and temp stowed out of the way
    • During rendezvous, crew performs a 360-degree pitch maneuver to permit station crew photography of shuttle thermal protection system; photos will be downlinked via KU as soon as possible
    • Shuttle docks with international space station; attitude control handed off to station gyros
    • Joint crew safety briefing; PMA setup
    • PGSC network reconfigured to support EVA/RMS operations; EVA tools transferred to ISS
    • OBSS is unberthed by SSRMS and handed off to SRMS; SSRMS then parked overnight near Unity nadir port for inspection; SSRMS remains powered for remainder of docked mission
    • ISS crew augmentation completed with transfer of Russian Soyuz seatliner to station
    July 4 Flight Day 4

    • SSRMS grapples MPLM and attaches it to Unity nadir port common berthing mechanism; one-hour CBS bolt loading required to complete installation
    • Vestibule pressurization, MPLM activation
    • Two hours and 40 minutes of OBSS survey operations with SRMS; this block of time for unfinished FD-2 survey work or focused inspections of potential damage; after MPLM installation, SSRMS walkoff from lab to mobile base station to monitor survey
    • EVA-1 preparations; spacesuits transferred to ISS airlock; equipment lock and EVA tools set up; one-hour EVA review with all crew members
    • Nitrogen transfer from shuttle to ISS
    • Middeck transfers
    • Shuttle air-to-ground (no TV) PAO event; ISS PAO event
    July 5 Flight Day 5

    • SSRMS ungrapples MBS
    • EVA-1: OBSS/SRMS loads test
    • MPLM transfers continue with ISS crew members
    July 6 Flight Day 6

    • Spacesuit servicing; EVA-2 preps with equipment lock setup, camera setup, tool configuration; one-hour EVA review with entire crew
    • SAFER jet backpack launched in MPLM is checked out
    • Third spacesuit, with advanced caution-and-warning system, is transferred to ISS and checked out
    • MPLM transfers
    • ISS lithium hydroxide servicing
    • Crew news conference; crew photo op
    July 7 Flight Day 7

    • EVA-2: ISS trailing umbilical system repair; pump module installation
    • SSRMS on lab grapple fixture used for EVA worksite access; when EVA tasks are complete, SSRMS moved to MPLM viewing position
    • MPLM transfers
    July 8 Flight Day 8

    • Water dumps performed (attitude control handover to shuttle before dump; back to ISS after dump)
    • NASA PAO event using shuttle assets
    • Spacesuit servicing
    • MPLM and middeck transfers; three computers transferred from shuttle to ISS
    • Nitrogen transfer to station is terminated
    July 9 Flight Day 9
    (see the editor's note above)

    • Shuttle crew enjoyed six hours and 45-minutes of off-duty time; private family conferences
    • Two ISS PAO events
    • CEVIS repair; removed components placed in MPLM for return to JSC
    • ISS crew installs CPA
    • MPLM cleanup; racks configured for entry; transfers complete by this point
    July 10 Flight Day 10

    • Spacesuits reconfigured for return to shuttle; EVA tools positioned as required
    • MPLM egress, deactivation, vestibule depressurization
    • STS crew does Unity nadir port CBM demate, MPLM uninstall and reberth in cargo bay using SSRMS
    • SSRMS repositioned on MBS
    • With SSRMS in viewing position on MBS, SRMS used to scan port wing as part of late inspection requirement; after LDRI scan, OBSS maneuvered to handoff position
    • Shuttle EVA pre-breathe equipment broken down
    • Middeck transfers
    • ISS external photo survey performed
    • Rendezvous tools set up and checked out
    July 11 Flight Day 11

    • Hatches closed between shuttle/ISS; centerline camera installed; docking system leak checks
    • Attitude control handed off from ISS to shuttle
    • Shuttle undocks from station; no fly around because of upcoming TPS late inspection requirements
    • Centerline camera removed; simo supply and waste water dumps
    • Communications strings checked
    • OBSS survey of starboard wing and nose cap (could not be done while docked because of station structural interference)
    • OBSS berthing; RMS berthing and power down
    • Middeck preps for entry; spacesuit stow
    • Computer network reconfigured
    July 12 Flight Day 12

    • Flight control system checkout; RCS hotfire test
    • Commander, pilot practice landing techniques with PILOT simulator
    • Cabin stow; ergometer stow; KU antenna stow
    • PAO event
    • Simo waste and supply water dumps; flash evaporator dump
    • Wing leading edge sensor laptop stowed
    • Communications systems set up for entry; entry video system setup
    July 13 Flight Day 13

    • Inertial measurement unit alignment
    • Laptop computer network break down
    • Group B computer powerup for entry
    • Deorbit prep
    • Landing