STS-51F Fact Sheet

By Cliff Lethbridge

STS-51F — Challenger

19th Space Shuttle Mission

8th Flight of Challenger


C. Gordon Fullerton, Commander

Roy D. Bridges, Jr., Pilot

F. Story Musgrave, Mission Specialist

Karl G. Henize, Mission Specialist

Anthony W. England, Mission Specialist

Loren W. Acton, Payload Specialist

John-David F. Bartoe, Payload Specialist

Orbiter Preparations:

Tow to Orbiter Processing Facility – May 12, 1985

Rollover to Vehicle Assembly Building – June 24, 1985

Rollout to Launch Pad 39A – June 29, 1985


July 29, 1985 – 5:00:00 p.m. EDT. Launch attempt on July 12, 1985 resulted in a main engine cutoff at T-3 seconds due to a malfunctioning coolant valve in Main Engine Number Two. July 29 launch was delayed 1 hour, 37 minutes due to a problem with the table maintenance block update uplink.

At 5 minutes, 45 seconds into the ascent, Challenger’s Number One Main Engine shut down prematurely. In the first in-flight abort of the Shuttle program, Challenger was able to abort to orbit and reach an acceptable mission orbit by spending additional orbital maneuvering system fuel.


August 6, 1985 – 12:45:26 p.m. PDT at Runway 23, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance was 8,569 feet. Rollout time was 55 seconds. Mission duration was 7 days, 22 hours, 45 minutes, 26 seconds. Landing occurred during the 127th orbit.

Mission Summary:

The mission’s primary payload was Spacelab-2. Despite the abort to orbit, which required some mission replanning, the overall mission was deemed a success. The main mission objective was to verify performance of Spacelab systems and determine interface capability with the Shuttle. Spacelab-2 experiments were conducted in life sciences, plasma physics, atmospheric physics and technology research.