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August 31, 2009 Vol. 2, Issue 8


August 30th, 2009, marks the 25-year anniversary of the space shuttle Discovery’s maiden flight.

After three scrubs, the orbiter finally lifted off on STS-41D on August 30, 1984, carrying a crew of six. The flight delivered three communications satellites to space: Satellite Business System’s SBS-4, LEASAT2 for Hughes Communications Services, Inc., and TELSTAR for AT&T. The shuttle also carried a 102 x 13-foot collapsible solar wing with different types of solar cells to develop solar arrays for future space facilities like the International Space Station.

Additionally, experiments like the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES) III, Radiation Monitoring Equipment, Shuttle Student Involvement Program experiment, an IMAX camera out for its second trip, and an Air Force experiment called the Cloud Logic to Optimize Use of Defense Systems (CLOUDS) were also onboard Discovery.

The shuttle’s inaugural flight safely ended on September 5, when it landed at Edwards Air Force Base, returning the six-person crew of Henry W. Hartsfield, Michael L. Coats, Judith A. Resnik, Steven A. Hawley, Richard M. Mullane, and Charles D. Walker home safely.

Since its first flight, Discovery has flown over 30 successful missions, more than any other orbiter. Some of its milestone flights include carrying the Hubble Space Telescope in April of 1990 on STS-31, and flying both the second and third servicing missions in 1997 and 1999 respectively. In October of 1990, Discovery carried the Ulysses spacecraft, which explored the Sun’s polar regions. In August 2001, during STS-105, Discovery attached the Multi-purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) to the space station. Discovery’s most recent launch that occurred one minute before midnight on Friday, August 28, 2009, will deliver the COLBERT treadmill, the Leonardo Supply module, and new crew member Nicole Stott to replace Tim Kopra.

Discovery was named after two sea-bound ships. The first was captained by Henry Hudson to find a northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans between 1610 and 1611. The second was the ship of James Cook when he discovered Hawaii.

Learn more about Discovery and its first crew.

Article by HS

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