is the 33rd launch of the Space Shuttle
and the 9th launch of Space Shuttle Columbia
the first time Pad A at Kennedy Space Center's Complex 39 was used for a launch since the
61-C mission on January 12, 1986.
was also the first use of Mobile Launcher Platform
(MLP-3) in the Space Shuttle program, and one of the longest
Shuttle missions at 10 days. Before STS-32, the only mission of the
same duration had been STS-9
in 1983, which
was the first Spacelab
mission and also on
. STS-32 executed the third night landing of the
39A was modified extensively in preparation for the
launch, with STS-32 the first launch from the refurbished pad since
61C in 1986. NASA made
improvements to the crew emergency egress system and in the payload room, increased
protection against freezing of the water services, installed debris
traps used during propellant loading, and added more weather
protection features and an umbilical to provide power,
instrumentation and controls to the heaters for the solid rocket
booster field joints.
Launch from pad 39A
MLP-3, the oldest of the three Apollo-era launch structures, also
underwent extensive remodeling for use with the Shuttle. Those
modifications included removal of the umbilical tower,
reconfiguring for three exhaust holes, and changing the electrical
and mechanical ground support systems.
Syncom IV-F5 is deployed
The LDEF is retrieved
January 9, 1990, 7:35:00 a.m. EST. The launch was first scheduled
for December 18, 1989, but was later postponed to complete and
verify modifications to Pad A. The second scheduled launch on
January 8, 1990 was aborted due to weather conditions. Launch
Weight: 255,994 lb (116.117 Mg).
objectives of the mission were to deploy the SYNCOM IV-F5 (also known as LEASAT 5) defense
communications satellite and retrieve
Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), whose retrieval had been
delayed for 4 1/2 years by scheduling changes and the Challenger disaster.
IV-F5 was deployed first on the second flight day, and a third
stage Minuteman solid perigee kick motor propelled it into a
retrieved the LDEF on day four of the flight using the remote
manipulator system. The timeliness of the retrieval had been of
critical importance, because a high rate of solar flux had
increased the density of the LDEF's orbital environment and
accelerated its rate of orbital decay
Specialists who carefully monitored the stability of the craft's
orbit had anticipated that if the LDEF was not retrieved in time,
it would pass too low for the shuttle to safely reach, and it could
be destroyed during re-entry in February 1990.
The crew performed a 4 1/2-hour photographic survey of the
free-flying structure which held 57 science, technology and
applications experiments. The 12-sided cylinder, about the size of
a small bus, was then berthed in the orbiter's payload bay for
return to Earth.
NASA had planned to acquire data on the crew members' exposure to
long periods of zero gravity
effects on the crew's performance while landing the orbiter after
an extended mission. STS-32 set a new shuttle duration record of
nearly eleven days. An orbiter kit was developed to allow the
shuttle to operate up to 16 days in Earth orbit, and would later
make its debut on Columbia'
mission in 1992.
The mission's exact liftoff time was determined about 12 hours
before launch, using the latest tracking data on LDEF. It was flown
on a 219 statute mile (352 km) orbit inclined 28.5 degrees to the
The retrieval of LDEF was filmed with an IMAX
camera, and appeared in the IMAX film Destiny in Space
in 1994. Earth observation
footage from the camera also appeared in the 1991 film Blue Planet
The Shuttle landed on January 20, 1990 at 1:35:37 a.m. PST on Runway 22 of
Force Base in California with a landing weight of 228,335 lb (103,571
The roll-out distance was 10,731 feet (3,271 m) and
roll-out time was 62 seconds. The orbiter returned to KSC on
January 26, 1990.
- Characterization of Neurospora
Circadian Rhythms (CNCR)
- Protein Crystal Growth (PCG)
- Fluid Experiment Apparatus (FEA)
- American Flight Echocardiograph (AFE)
- Latitude / Longitude Locator (L3)
- Mesoscale Lightning Experiment(MLE)
- IMAX camera
- Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) experiment
The three stars on the left and two stars on the right of the
insignia symbolize the flight's numerical designation in the Space
Transportation System's mission sequence.
A tradition for NASA human spaceflights since the days of Gemini
, mission crews are played a special
musical track at the start of each day in space.Each track is
specially chosen, often by their families, and usually has a
special meaning to an individual member of the crew, or is
applicable to their daily activities.