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View of Columbia's payload bay, showing Spacelab.
|Mission type||Microgravity research|
|Mission duration||10 days, 7 hours, 47 minutes, 24 seconds|
|Distance travelled||6,913,504 kilometres (4,295,852 mi)|
|Spacecraft||Space Shuttle Columbia|
|Launch mass||112,318 kilograms (247,618 lb)|
|Landing mass||99,800 kilograms (220,021 lb)|
|Payload mass||15,088 kilograms (33,263 lb)|
|Members||John W. Young
Brewster H. Shaw, Jr.
Owen K. Garriott
Robert A. Parker
Byron K. Lichtenberg
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||28 November 1983, 16:00:00UTC|
|Launch site||Kennedy LC-39A|
|End of mission|
|Landing date||8 December 1983, 22:47:24UTC|
|Landing site||Edwards Runway 17|
|Perigee||240 kilometres (149 mi)|
|Apogee||253 kilometres (157 mi)|
STS-9 (also referred to as STS-41A and Spacelab 1) was the ninth NASA Space Shuttle mission and the sixth mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Launched on 28 November 1983, the ten-day mission carried the first Spacelab laboratory module into orbit, and was Columbia's last flight until STS-61-C in January 1986.
STS-9 was also the last time the original STS numbering system was used until STS-26, which was designated in the aftermath of the 1986 Challenger disaster of STS-51-L. Under the new system, STS-9 would have been designated as STS-41-A. STS-9's originally planned successor, STS-10, was cancelled due to payload issues; it was instead followed by STS-41-B.
|Commander||John W. Young
Sixth and last spaceflight
|Pilot||Brewster H. Shaw, Jr.
|Mission Specialist 1||Owen K. Garriott
Second and last spaceflight
|Mission Specialist 2||Robert A. Parker
|Payload Specialist 1||Ulf Merbold, ESA
|Payload Specialist 2||Byron K. Lichtenberg
|Payload Specialist 1||Wubbo Ockels|
|Payload Specialist 2||Michael Lampton|
- Guy S. Gardner (ascent CAPCOM)
- Bryan D. O'Connor
- Mary L. Cleave
- Anna L. Fisher
- Franklin Chang-Diaz
- Chuck Lewis (Marshall CAPCOM)
- Wubbo Ockels
- William F. Fisher
- John E. Blaha (entry CAPCOM)
STS-9's six-member crew, the largest of any manned space mission at the time, included John W. Young, commander, on his second shuttle flight; Brewster H. Shaw, pilot; Owen Garriott and Robert A. Parker, both mission specialists; and Byron K. Lichtenberg and Ulf Merbold, payload specialists – the first two non-NASA astronauts to fly on the Space Shuttle. Merbold, a citizen of West Germany, was the first foreign citizen to participate in a shuttle flight. Lichtenberg was a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to STS-9, the scientist-astronaut Garriott had spent 56 days in orbit in 1973 aboard Skylab.
The mission was devoted entirely to Spacelab 1, a joint NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) program designed to demonstrate the ability to conduct advanced scientific research in space. Astronauts and payload specialists worked in the Spacelab module and coordinated their efforts with scientists at the Marshall Payload Operations Control Center (POCC), which was then located at the Johnson Space Center in Texas. Funding for Spacelab 1 was provided by the ESA.
After Columbia's return from STS-5 in November 1982, it received several modifications and changes in preparation for STS-9. Most of these changes were intended to support the Spacelab module and crew, such as the addition of a tunnel connecting the Spacelab to the shuttle's airlock, and additional provisions for the mission's six crew members, such as a galley and sleeping bunks. Columbia also received the more powerful Space Shuttle Main Engines introduced with Challenger; its original main engines were later refurbished for use with Atlantis, which was still under construction at the time. Also added to the shuttle were higher capacity fuel cells and a Ku-band antenna for use with the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS).
The mission's original launch date of 29 October 1983 was scrubbed due to concerns with the exhaust nozzle on the right solid rocket booster (SRB). For the first time in the history of the shuttle program, the shuttle stack was rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where it was destacked and the orbiter returned to the orbiter processing facility, while the suspect booster underwent repairs. The shuttle was restacked and returned to the launch pad on 8 November 1983.
STS-9 launched successfully from Kennedy Space Center at 11 am EST on 28 November 1983.
The shuttle's crew was divided into two teams, each working 12-hour shifts for the duration of the mission. Young, Parker and Merbold formed the Red Team, while Shaw, Garriott and Lichtenberg made up the Blue Team. Usually, the commander and the pilot team members were assigned to the flight deck, while the mission and payload specialists worked inside the Spacelab.
Over the course of the mission, 72 scientific experiments were carried out, spanning the fields of atmospheric and plasma physics, astronomy, solar physics, material sciences, technology, astrobiology and Earth observations. The Spacelab effort went so well that the mission was extended an additional day to 10 days, making it the longest-duration shuttle flight at that time. In addition, Garriott made the first ham radio transmissions by an amateur radio operator in space during the flight. This led to many further space flights incorporating amateur radio as an educational and back-up communications tool.
The Spacelab 1 mission was highly successful, proving the feasibility of the concept of carrying out complex experiments in space using non-NASA persons trained as payload specialists in collaboration with a POCC. Moreover, the TDRS, now fully operational, was able to relay significant amounts of data through its ground terminal to the POCC.
During orbiter orientation, four hours before re-entry, one of the flight control computers crashed when the RCS thrusters were fired. A few minutes later, a second crashed in a similar fashion, but was successfully rebooted. Young delayed the landing, letting the orbiter drift. He later testified: "Had we then activated the Backup Flight Software, loss of vehicle and crew would have resulted." Post-flight analysis revealed the GPCs failed when the RCS thruster motion knocked a piece of solder loose and shorted out the CPU board.
Columbia landed on Runway 17 at Edwards Air Force Base on 8 December 1983, at 3:47 pm PST, having completed 166 orbits and travelled 4.3 million miles (6.9×106 km) over the course of its mission. Right before landing, two of the orbiter's three auxiliary power units caught fire due to a hydrazine leak, but the orbiter nonetheless landed successfully. Columbia was ferried back to KSC on 15 December. The leak was later discovered after it had burned itself out and caused major damage to the compartment.
|Attempt||Planned||Result||Turnaround||Reason||Decision point||Weather go (%)||Notes|
|1||1983-10-29 12:00:00 pm !29 Oct 1983, 12:00:00 pm||scrubbed||---||technical||1983-10-19 !19 Oct 1983, 12:00 am(T-43)||SRB nozzle issues. Launch and decision point times are approximate, dates are accurate.|
|2||1983-11-28 11:00:00 am !28 Nov 1983, 11:00:00 am||success||29 days, 22 hours, 60 minutes|
The mission's main payload, Spacelab 1, is depicted in the payload bay of the Columbia. The nine stars and the path of the orbiter indicate the flight's numerical designation, STS-9.
- List of space shuttle missions
- List of human spaceflights chronologically
- List of spaceflight-related accidents and incidents
- "Fun facts about STS numbering". NASA/KSC. 29 October 2004. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- "STS-9 Press Kit" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- Lewis, Richard (1984). The voyages of Columbia: the first true spaceship. Columbia University Press. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-231-05924-4.
- "Shuttle Rollbacks". NASA. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- STS-9 mission summary. NASA.
- STS-9 video highlights. NSS.
- "Space shuttle computer problems, 1981–1985". Risks Digest. 20 January 1989. Retrieved 20 July 2013.