STS-41-C was NASA's 11th Space Shuttle mission, and the fifth mission of Space Shuttle Challenger. The launch, which took place on April 6, 1984, marked the first direct ascent trajectory for a shuttle mission. During the mission, Challenger's crew captured and repaired the malfunctioning Solar Maximum Mission ("Solar Max") satellite, and deployed the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) experimental apparatus. STS-41-C was extended one day due to problems capturing the Solar Max satellite, and the landing on April 13 took place at Edwards Air Force Base, instead of at Kennedy Space Center as had been planned. The flight was originally numbered STS-13.[3][4]

SMMS repair by STS-41C Astronauts
Mission Specialists George Nelson and James van Hoften repair the captured Solar Maximum Mission Satellite on 11 April 1984.
Mission typeSatellite deployment
Satellite repair
COSPAR ID1984-034A
SATCAT no.14897
Mission duration6 days, 23 hours, 40 minutes, 7 seconds
Distance travelled4,620,000 kilometres (2,870,000 mi)
Orbits completed108
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Challenger
Launch mass115,328 kilograms (254,254 lb)
Landing mass89,346 kilograms (196,975 lb)
Payload mass15,345 kilograms (33,831 lb)[1]
Crew size5
MembersRobert L. Crippen
Francis R. Scobee
Terry J. Hart
James D. A. van Hoften
George D. Nelson
EVA duration10 hours, 6 minutes
First: 2 hours, 59 minutes
Second: 7 hours, 7 minutes
Start of mission
Launch dateApril 6, 1984, 13:58:00 UTC
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Landing dateApril 13, 1984, 13:38:07 UTC
Landing siteEdwards Runway 17
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee222 kilometres (138 mi)
Apogee468 kilometres (291 mi)
Inclination28.5 degrees
Period91.4 min
EpochApril 8, 1984[2]
STS-41-C patch
STS-41-C crew

Left to right: Crippen, Hart, van Hoften, Nelson, Scobee


Position Astronaut
Commander Robert L. Crippen
Third spaceflight
Pilot Francis R. Scobee
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 Terry J. Hart
Only spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 James D. A. van Hoften
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 George D. Nelson
First spaceflight


  • Personnel: Nelson and van Hoften
  • Date: April 8, 1984 (14:18–16:56 UTC)
  • Duration: 2 hours, 59 minutes[5]
  • Personnel: Nelson and van Hoften
  • Date: April 11, 1984 (08:58–15:42 UTC)
  • Duration: 7 hours, 7 minutes[5]

Crew seating arrangements

Launch Landing
STS-121 seating assignments

Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck. Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.
S1 Crippen Crippen
S2 Scobee Scobee
S3 Hart Nelson
S4 van Hoften van Hoften
S5 Nelson Hart

Mission summary

STS-41-C post flight presentation, narrated by the astronauts (19 minutes).

STS-41-C launched successfully at 8:58 am EST on April 6, 1984. The mission marked the first direct ascent trajectory for the Space Shuttle; Challenger reached its 288-nautical-mile-(533-km)-high orbit using its Orbiter Maneuvering System (OMS) engines only once, to circularize its orbit. During the ascent phase, the main computer in Mission Control failed, as did the backup computer. For about an hour, the controllers had no data on the orbiter.[7]

The flight had two primary objectives. The first was to deploy the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), a passive, retrievable, 12-sided experimental cylinder. The 21,300-pound (9,700 kg) LDEF was 14 feet (4.3 m) in diameter and 30 feet (9.1 m) long, and carried 57 scientific experiments. The second objective of STS-41-C was to capture, repair and redeploy the malfunctioning Solar Maximum Mission satellite ("Solar Max"), which had been launched in 1980.

On the second day of the flight, the LDEF was grappled by the "Canadarm" Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm and successfully released into orbit. Its 57 experiments, mounted in 86 removable trays, were contributed by 200 researchers from eight countries. Retrieval of the passive LDEF was initially scheduled for 1985, but schedule delays and the Challenger disaster of 1986 postponed the retrieval until January 12, 1990, when Columbia retrieved the LDEF during STS-32.

On the third day of the mission, Challenger's orbit was raised to about 300 nautical miles (560 km), and it maneuvered to within 200 feet (61 m) of the stricken Solar Max satellite. Astronauts Nelson and van Hoften, wearing spacesuits, entered the payload bay. Nelson, using the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), flew out to the satellite and attempted to grasp it with a special capture tool, called the Trunnion Pin Acquisition Device (TPAD). Three attempts to clamp the TPAD onto the satellite failed. Solar Max began tumbling on multiple axes when Nelson attempted to grab one of the satellite's solar arrays by hand, and the effort was called off. Crippen had to perform multiple maneuvers of the orbiter to keep up with Nelson and Solar Max, and nearly ran out of RCS fuel.[7]

During the night of the third day, the Solar Max Payload Operations Control Center (POCC), located at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, was able to establish control over the satellite by sending commands ordering the satellite's magnetorquers to stabilize its tumbling. This was successful, and Solar Max went into a slow, regular spin. The next day, Crippen maneuvered Challenger back to Solar Max, and Hart was able to grapple the satellite with the RMS. They placed Solar Max on a special cradle in the payload bay using the RMS. Nelson and van Hoften then began the repair operation, replacing the satellite's attitude control mechanism and the main electronics system of the coronagraph instrument. The ultimately successful repair effort took two separate spacewalks. Solar Max was deployed back into orbit the next day. After a 30-day checkout by the Goddard POCC, the satellite resumed full operation.

Other STS-41-C mission activities included a student experiment located in a middeck locker which found that honeybees can successfully make honeycomb cells in a microgravity environment. Highlights of the mission, including the LDEF deployment and the Solar Max repair, were filmed using an IMAX movie camera, and the results appeared in the 1985 IMAX movie The Dream is Alive.

The 6-day, 23-hour, 40-minute, 7-second mission ended on April 13, 1984, at 5:38 am PST, when Challenger landed safely on Runway 17, at Edwards AFB, having completed 108 orbits. Challenger was returned to KSC on April 18, 1984.


The launch of STS-41-C on April 6, 1984.


The deployed Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), which became an important source of information on the small-particle space debris environment.

Capturing the Solar Maximum Mission satellite

George Nelson attempts to capture the Solar Maximum Mission satellite.

STS-41-C landing

STS-41-C touches down at Runway 17, Edwards Air Force Base, on April 13, 1984.

Wake-up calls

STS-41-c Alt Patch
Alternate mission patch, referencing the mission's original designation, STS-13; and landing under a black cat, given that April 13th was a Friday the 13th.[8]

NASA began a tradition of playing music to astronauts during the Gemini program, and first used music to wake up a flight crew during Apollo 15. Each track is specially chosen, often by the astronauts' families, and usually has a special meaning to an individual member of the crew, or is applicable to their daily activities.[9]

Flight Day Song Artist/Composer
Day 2 "A Boy Named Sue" Johnny Cash
Day 3 "Fight for California"

"Lehigh University Fight Song"

Day 4 Unidentified
Day 5 "Theme from Rocky" Bill Conti
Day 6 Unidentified
Day 7 None
Day 8 "University of Texas Fight Song"

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ "NASA shuttle cargo weight summary" (PDF). Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  2. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "SATCAT". Jonathan's Space Pages. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  3. ^ "James D. A. van Hoften" (PDF). NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project. December 5, 2007. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  4. ^ "Terry J. Hart" (PDF). NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project. April 10, 2003. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "STS-41-C". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  6. ^ "STS-41C". Spacefacts. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Hale, Wayne (May 28, 2012). "Ground Up Rendezvous". Wayne Hale's Blog. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  8. ^ Ben Evans (2007). Space Shuttle Challenger: Ten Journeys into the Unknown. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-387-49679-5.
  9. ^ Fries, Colin (June 25, 2007). "Chronology of Wakeup Calls" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved August 13, 2007.

External links

1984 in spaceflight

The following is an outline of 1984 in spaceflight.

Astronaut birthplaces by US state

This article lists the birthplaces of astronauts from the United States' space program and other space travelers born in the United States or holding American citizenship. Space travelers who did not work for NASA are indicated in italics.

Dick Scobee

Francis Richard Scobee (May 19, 1939 – January 28, 1986) was an American pilot, engineer and astronaut. He was killed commanding the Space Shuttle Challenger, which suffered catastrophic booster failure during launch of the STS-51-L mission.He held a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He was a reciprocating enginemechanic for the United States Air Force and served as a combat aviator in the Vietnam War.

In April 1984, he piloted Challenger mission STS-41-C, which successfully deployed one satellite and repaired another. Selected for NASA Astronaut Corps in January 1978, Scobee completed his training in August 1979. While awaiting his first orbital spaceflight mission, he served as an instructor pilot for the Shuttle's 747 carrier aircraft.

Fight for California

Fight for California is the official fight song of the University of California, Berkeley. The tune is a march and is from the "trio" or final strain of the "Lights Out March" written by Earl Elleson McCoy in 1906. The lyrics were written by Robert N. Fitch of the class of 1909.

George Nelson (astronaut)

George Driver "Pinky" Nelson (born (1950-07-13)July 13, 1950) is an American physicist, astronomer, science educator, and a former NASA astronaut.

James van Hoften

James Dougal Adrianus "Ox" van Hoften, Ph.D. (born June 11, 1944) is an American civil and hydraulic engineer, retired U.S. Navy officer and aviator, and a former astronaut for NASA.

Jerry L. Ross

Jerry Lynn Ross (born January 20, 1948, Crown Point, Indiana) is a retired United States Air Force officer and a former NASA astronaut. He is a veteran of seven Space Shuttle missions, making him the joint record holder for most spaceflights (a record he shares with Franklin Chang-Diaz). His papers, photographs and many personal items are in the Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration Archives at Purdue University. He was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame during ceremonies in May 2014.

Ross is the author of Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA's Record-Setting Frequent Flyer (Purdue University Press, 2013) with John Norberg. In March 2014 it was announced "Spacewalker" will be available in a French translation through the specialist aerospace publisher Altipresse.

Fellow astronaut Chris Hadfield describes Ross in his autobiography, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, as "the embodiment of the trustworthy, loyal, courteous and brave astronaut archetype."

List of astronauts by first flight

This is a list of astronauts by first flight, in chronological order, according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale criterion of achieving an altitude higher than 100 km (62 mi; 330,000 ft), thereby crossing the Kármán line. During the 1960s, the United States Air Force considered an altitude of 50 mi (80 km; 260,000 ft) as the limit of space; United States Air Force and NASA personnel exceeding that altitude at the time could be awarded the astronaut badge. Thirteen X-15 flights travelled higher than 50 miles.

List of astronauts by name

This is an alphabetical list of astronauts, people selected to train for a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft.

For a list of everyone who has flown in space, see List of space travelers by name.

More than 560 people have been trained as astronauts. Until recently, astronauts were sponsored and trained exclusively by governments, either by the military or by civilian space agencies. However, with the advent of suborbital flight starting with privately funded SpaceShipOne in 2004, a new category of astronaut was created: the commercial astronaut.

While the term astronaut is sometimes applied to anyone who trains for travels into space—including scientists, politicians, journalists, and tourists—this article lists only professional astronauts, those who have been selected to train professionally. This includes national space programs, industry and commercial space programs which train and/or hire their own professional astronauts.

Names in italic are astronauts who have left Low Earth orbit, names in bold are astronauts who have walked on the moon. The flags indicate the astronaut's primary citizenship during his or her time as an astronaut. The symbol identifies female astronauts.

List of human spaceflights, 1981–1990

This is a detailed list of human spaceflights from 1981 to 1990, spanning the end of the Soviet Union's Salyut space station program, the beginning of Mir, and the start of the US Space Shuttle program.

Red indicates fatalities.

Green indicates suborbital flights (including flights that failed to attain intended orbit).

NASA Astronaut Group 7

Astronaut Group 7, referred to in some documents as the USAF MOL Transfer, was a group of seven astronauts announced by NASA on August 14, 1969, and was the last group to be selected during the Apollo era. After the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) project was cancelled, NASA hired seven of the astronauts selected for that program to form this "Group 7", roughly the younger half of the MOL astronauts. By the time they joined NASA, all Apollo flight assignments had been lined up, but four were given non-flying support assignments for Apollo. Others were also given support assignments for Skylab and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, with Bobko and Crippen participating in the Skylab Medical Experiment Altitude Test. Group 7 went on to form the core of early Space Shuttle pilots, upgrading to commander after their first flight, flying 17 STS missions between them, plus the Approach and Landing Tests of Enterprise (OV-101).

NASA Astronaut Group 8

NASA's Astronaut Group 8 was a group of 35 astronauts announced on January 16, 1978. It was the first selection in nine years of astronaut candidates since Group 7 in August 1969, and also included NASA's first female astronauts. Due to the long delay between the last Apollo lunar mission in 1972 and the first flight of the Space Shuttle in 1981, few astronauts from the older groups stayed with NASA. Since then, a new group of candidates has been selected roughly every two years.In Astronaut Group 8, two different astronaut groups were formed: pilots and mission specialists. (With shuttle classes, NASA stopped sending non-pilots for one year of UPT.) Of the 35 selected, six were women, three were male African Americans, and one was a male Asian American.

Robert Crippen

Robert Laurel Crippen (born September 11, 1937) is an American retired naval officer and aviator, test pilot, aerospace engineer, and retired astronaut. He traveled into space four times: as Pilot of STS-1 in April 1981, the first Space Shuttle mission; and as Commander of STS-7 in June 1983, STS-41-C in April 1984, and STS-41-G in October 1984. Crippen received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Crippen was active in the search during the recovery operations for the remains of crew members after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, renting a fishing boat at his own expense as part of recovery efforts..


STS-41-B was the tenth NASA Space Shuttle mission and the fourth flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger. It launched on February 3, 1984, and landed on February 11 after deploying two communications satellites. It was also notable for including the first untethered spacewalk.

Following STS-9, the flight numbering system for the Space Shuttle program was changed. Thus, the next flight, instead of being designated STS-11, became STS-41-B; the original successor to STS-9, STS-10, was cancelled due to payload delays.

Solar Maximum Mission

The Solar Maximum Mission satellite (or SolarMax) was designed to investigate Solar phenomena, particularly solar flares. It was launched on February 14, 1980. The SMM was the first satellite based on the Multimission Modular Spacecraft bus manufactured by Fairchild Industries, a platform which was later used for Landsats 4 and 5 as well as the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite.

After an attitude control failure in Nov 1980 it was put in standby mode until April 1984 when it was repaired by a Shuttle mission.

The Solar Maximum Mission ended on December 2, 1989, when the spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere and burned up over the Indian Ocean.

Space Shuttle Challenger

Space Shuttle Challenger (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-099) 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.

Terry Hart

Terry Jonathan "T.J." Hart (born October 27, 1946, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an American mechanical and electrical engineer, a retired United States Air Force lieutenant colonel and pilot, and former NASA astronaut.

The Dream Is Alive

The Dream is Alive is an IMAX documentary film, released in June 1985, about NASA's Space Shuttle program. The film was narrated by Walter Cronkite, and directed by Graeme Ferguson.


Triskaidekaphobia ( TRIS-kye-DEK-ə-FOH-bee-ə, TRIS-kə-; from Greek triskaideka, meaning 'thirteen', and phobos, meaning 'fear') is fear or avoidance of the number 13. It is also a reason for the fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia (from Greek Παρασκευή (Paraskevi), meaning 'Friday') or friggatriskaidekaphobia (after Frigg, the Norse goddess after whom Friday is named in English).

The term was used as early as in 1910 by Isador Coriat in Abnormal Psychology.

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