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1990 s32 LDEF and Columbia over Namibia.jpg
Columbia retrieves the Long Duration Exposure Facility
Mission typeSatellite deployment
Satellite retrieval
COSPAR ID1990-002A
SATCAT no.20409
Mission duration10 days, 21 hours, 36 seconds
Distance travelled7,258,096 kilometres (4,509,972 mi)
Orbits completed172
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Columbia
Launch mass116,117 kilograms (255,994 lb)
Landing mass103,571 kilograms (228,335 lb)
Payload mass12,014 kilograms (26,486 lb)
Crew size5
Start of mission
Launch date9 January 1990, 12:35:00 (1990-01-09UTC12:35Z) UTC
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Landing date20 January 1990, 09:35:37 (1990-01-20UTC09:35:38Z) UTC
Landing siteEdwards Runway 22
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude296 kilometres (184 mi)
Apogee altitude361 kilometres (224 mi)
Inclination28.5 degrees
Period91.1 min
STS-32 patch.png STS-32 crew.jpg
Clockwise from top left: Ivins, Low, Dunbar, Wetherbee, Brandenstein.
← STS-33
STS-36 →

STS-32R was the 33rd mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program, and the ninth launch of Space Shuttle Columbia. Launched on 9 January 1990, it marked the first use of Launch Pad A at Kennedy Space Center's Complex 39 since 1986; it also marked the first use of Mobile Launcher Platform-3 (MLP-3) in the Space Shuttle program. STS-32R was, at the time, the longest shuttle mission yet conducted, with a duration of nearly 11 days. Before STS-32R, the only mission of the same duration had been STS-9 in 1983. On 20 January 1990, STS-32 executed the third night landing of the shuttle program. STS-32R was also the first shuttle launch of the 1990s.

The mission was technically designated STS-32R, as the original STS-32 designator belonged to STS-61C, the 24th Space Shuttle mission. Official documentation and flight paperwork for that mission contained the designator STS-32 throughout. The 'R' stood for 'Recycled' or sometimes 'Re-manifested'. As STS-51L was designated STS-33, future flights with the STS-26 through STS-33 designators would require the 'R' in their documentation to avoid conflicts in tracking data from one mission to another.[1]


Position Astronaut
Commander Daniel C. Brandenstein
Third spaceflight
Pilot James D. Wetherbee
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 Bonnie J. Dunbar
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 Marsha S. Ivins
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 G. David Low
First spaceflight

Crew seating arrangements[edit]

Seat[2] Launch Landing STS-121 seating assignments.png
Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck. Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.
S1 Brandenstein Brandenstein
S2 Wetherbee Wetherbee
S3 Dunbar Low
S4 Ivins Ivins
S5 Low Dunbar

Launch preparations[edit]

Launch Complex 39A was modified extensively in preparation for the launch, with STS-32R being the first launch from the refurbished pad since STS-61-C in 1986. NASA made improvements to the crew emergency egress system and the shuttle payload room, increased anti-freeze protection for the water systems, 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.

MLP-3, the oldest of the three Apollo-era launch structures, also underwent extensive remodeling for use with the shuttle. These modifications included the removal of the umbilical tower, the reconfiguring of three exhaust holes, and amendments to the electrical and mechanical ground support systems.

Mission summary[edit]

The launch of STS-32 from LC-39A.
The Syncom IV-F5 satellite is deployed.
Space Shuttle Columbia, returning to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) after the successful STS-32R mission, flies past the Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC, secured atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

STS-32R launched from Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, on 9 January 1990 at 7:35:00 am EST. The launch was initially scheduled for 18 December 1989, but was later postponed to allow the modifications to Pad A to be completed and verified. The second scheduled launch, on 8 January 1990, was aborted due to weather conditions. Columbia had a mission launch weight of 255,994 lb (116,117 kg)

The primary objectives of the mission were to deploy the Syncom IV-F5 defense communications satellite (also known as Leasat 5),[3] and to retrieve NASA's Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), whose retrieval had been delayed for 412 years by scheduling changes and the Challenger disaster of 1986. Syncom IV-F5 was deployed on the second flight day, and a third-stage Minuteman solid perigee kick motor propelled it into a geosynchronous orbit. Dunbar retrieved the LDEF on the fourth day of the flight using the shuttle's Remote Manipulator System. The timeliness of the retrieval was 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 could be destroyed during re-entry in February 1990. Thus, 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 352 kilometers (219 mi) orbit inclined 28.5 degrees to the equator.

The crew performed a 412-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, and its effects on the crew's performance while landing the orbiter after an extended mission. STS-32R set a new shuttle duration record of nearly eleven days. An orbiter kit was developed to allow the shuttle to operate for up to 16 days in Earth orbit, and would later make its debut on Columbia's STS-50 mission in 1992.

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 1990 film Blue Planet.

Columbia landed safely on 20 January 1990 at 1:35:37 am PST on Runway 22 of Edwards Air Force Base, California. The shuttle had a landing weight of 103,571 kilograms (228,335 lb). The roll-out distance was 3,271 metres (10,732 ft), and the roll-out time was 62 seconds. The orbiter returned to KSC on 26 January 1990.

Mid-deck payloads[edit]

In addition to the Syncom IV-F5 satellite, STS-32 carried a number of mid-deck scientific payloads, some of which had already been flown on previous shuttle missions. The experiments included:

  • 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

Mission insignia[edit]

The three stars on the left and two stars on the right of STS-32R's insignia symbolized the flight's numerical designation in the Space Transportation System's mission sequence.

The inverted orbiter on the mission patch reflects the overhead phasing required for rendezvous with LDEF. LDEF had dropped to such a low altitude that the orbiter could not do the usual lower-orbit catch-up because of the thicker atmosphere, and had to reach the LDEF from above.

Wake-up calls[edit]

NASA began a tradition of playing music to astronauts during the Gemini program, and first used music to wake up a flight crew during Apollo 15. Each track is specially chosen, often by the astronauts' families, and usually has a special meaning to an individual member of the crew, or is applicable to their daily activities.[4]

Flight Day Song Artist/Composer
Day 2 "What's More American?" Bing Crosby
Day 3 "The Banana Boat Song" parody
Day 4 "Let It Snow" parody
Day 5 "Hello Dolly" parody
Day 6 "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes"
Day 7 "Notre Dame Victory March"
Day 8 "Bow Down to Washington" University of Washington
Day 9 "Glory, Glory, Colorado" University of Colorado
Day 10 "Danny Boy" Larry Bird
Day 11 "Washington and Lee" Washington and Lee University
Day 12 "Born to Be Wild" Steppenwolf
Day 13 "Anchors Aweigh" Charles A. Zimmerman

See also[edit]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ Jenkins, Dennis (2013). Space Shuttle: Developing an Icon 1972-2013 (1st ed.). Volume III: Specialty Press. p. 144. ISBN 9781580072496. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  2. ^ "STS-32". Spacefacts. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Leasat Military Communications Satellite". 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  4. ^ Fries, Colin (25 June 2007). "Chronology of Wakeup Calls" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 13 August 2007.

External links[edit]