Launch from Cape Canaveral (KSC
landing on Edwards AFB
The launch was first scheduled for May
16, 1990. Following Flight Readiness Review (FRR), announcement of firm launch
date delayed to change out a faulty freon coolant loop proportional valve in
orbiter's coolant system. At subsequent Delta FRR, date set for May 30. Launch
on May 30, 1990 scrubbed during tanking due to minor hydrogen leak in tail
service mast on mobile launcher platform and major leak in external
tank/orbiter 17 inch (432 mm) quick disconnect assembly. Hydrogen also detected
in orbiter's aft compartment believed associated with leak involving 17 inch
(432 mm) umbilical assembly. Launch rescheduled for September 06, 1990. During
tanking, high concentrations of hydrogen detected in orbiter's aft compartment,
forcing another postponement.
managers concluded that Columbia had experienced
separate hydrogen leaks from beginning: one of umbilical assembly (now
replaced) and one or more in aft compartment which had resurfaced. Suspicion
focused on package of three hydrogen recirculation pumps in aft compartment.
Columbia transferred to Pad 39-B October 08, 1990 to make room for Atlantis on
. Tropical storm Klaus
forced rollback to
October 09, 1990. Vehicle transferred to Pad 39-B again October 14, 1990.
Mini-tanking test conducted October 30, 1990, using special sensors and video
cameras and employing a see-through Plexiglas aft compartment door. Liftoff
December 2, 1990 was delayed 21 minutes to allow the Air Force range time to
observe low-level clouds that might impede tracking of Shuttle
became the oldest astronaut to fly into space.
Primary objectives were
round-the-clock observations of celestial sphere in ultraviolet and X-ray
astronomy with ASTRO-1 observatory consisting of four telescopes: Hopkins
Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT
); Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photo-Polarimeter
); Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT
); and Broad Band X-Ray Telescope (BBXRT
). Ultraviolet telescopes mounted on Spacelab
elements in cargo bay were to be operated in shifts by flight crew.
loss of both data display units (used for pointing telescopes and operating
experiments) during mission impacted crew-aiming procedures and forced ground
teams at Marshall Space Flight Center to aim ultraviolet telescopes with
fine-tuning by flight crew.
, also mounted in cargo bay, was directed from
outset by ground-based operators at Goddard Space Flight Center and not
affected. But all in all only 70% of planned science data were
Other experiments were: Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment-2
(SAREX-2); ground-based experiment to calibrate electro-optical sensors at Air
Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS
) in Hawaii; and crew conducted Space Classroom
Program: Assignment: The Stars, to spark student interest in science, math and
technology. Crew experienced trouble dumping waste water due to clogged drain,
but managed using spare containers.
The mission was cut short one day
due to impending bad weather at primary landing site.