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STS-51C Fact Sheet

Written and Edited by Cliff Lethbridge


STS-51C -- Discovery


15th Space Shuttle Mission

3rd Flight of Discovery


Note: STS-51C was originally planned for Challenger. However, problems with Challenger's thermal tiles forced a switch to Discovery.




Thomas K. Mattingly II, Commander

Loren J. Shriver, Pilot

James F. Buchli, Mission Specialist

Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist

Gary E. Payton, Payload Specialist


Orbiter Preparations:


Tow to Orbiter Processing Facility - November 16, 1984

Rollover to Vehicle Assembly Building - December 21, 1984

Rollout to Launch Pad 39A - January 5, 1985




January 24, 1985 - 2:50:00 p.m. EST. Launch attempt on January 23, 1985 was scrubbed due to cold weather. January 24 launch time was not made public until T-9 minutes and counting.




January 27, 1985 - 4:23:23 p.m. EST at Runway 15, Kennedy Space Center. Rollout distance was 7,352 feet. Rollout time was 50 seconds. Mission duration was 3 days, 1 hour, 33 minutes, 23 seconds. Landing occurred during the 49th orbit.


Mission Summary:


This was the first dedicated Department of Defense mission. Elements of the mission were kept secret. However, it was reported that a U.S. Air Force Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) booster successfully deployed a secret payload.




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