September 5, 2008 Vol. 1, Issue 8
On September 29, 1988, Space Shuttle Discovery launched into orbit exactly 975 days after the Challenger disaster.
The four-day mission, led by a veteran crew, marked NASA’s return to flight after the 1986 Challenger explosion. The launch was slightly delayed due to faulty fuses in two crew members’ flight suits. STS-26 marked the seventh flight for Discovery.
The primary payload consisted of a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-3), which was deployed into a geo-synchronous orbit.
It is notable that this mission was the first to use a speech recognition computer. The Voice Control Unit (VCU) controlled cameras that monitored the mechanical arm mounted in the cargo bay of Discovery. The VCU was shown to have over a 96% success rate in functionality, though it was not used for any critical assignments due to the test nature of this system at the time.
Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base on October 3, 1988. The crew was greeted by Vice President George Bush and his wife Barbara, Brigadier General (Ret.) Chuck Yeager, Gov. George Deukmejian of California, and NASA Administrator Dr. James C. Fletcher and Deputy Administrator Dale Myers.