Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spacelab Module LM1 in Columbia's payload bay, serving as the Spacelab Life Sciences laboratory
NamesSpace Transportation System-40
Mission typeSpacelab Life Sciences-1 (SLS-1)
COSPAR ID1991-040A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.21399
Mission duration9 days, 2 hours, 14 minutes, 20 seconds
Distance travelled6,083,223 km (3,779,940 mi)
Orbits completed146
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Columbia
Launch mass114,290 kg (251,970 lb)
Landing mass102,283 kg (225,495 lb)
Payload mass12,374 kg (27,280 lb)
Crew size7
Start of mission
Launch dateJune 5, 1991, 13:24:51 UTC
RocketSpace Shuttle Columbia
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39B
ContractorRockwell International
End of mission
Landing dateJune 14, 1991, 15:39:11 UTC
Landing siteEdwards,
Runway 22
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude287 km (178 mi)
Apogee altitude296 km (184 mi)
Period90.40 minutes
  • Getaway Special (GAS) canisters
  • Middeck Zero-Gravity Dynamics Experiment (MODE)

STS-40 mission patch

Back row: Bryan D. O'Connor, Tamara E. Jernigan, Sidney M. Gutierrez
Front row: F. Drew Gaffney, Millie Hughes-Fulford, Rhea Seddon, James P. Bagian
← STS-39 (40)
STS-43 (42) →

STS-40, the eleventh launch of Space Shuttle Columbia, was a nine-day mission in June 1991. It carried the Spacelab module for Spacelab Life Sciences 1 (SLS-1), the fifth Spacelab mission and the first dedicated solely to biology. STS-40 was the first spaceflight that included three women crew members.[1]


Position Astronaut
Commander Bryan D. O'Connor
Second and last spaceflight
Pilot Sidney M. Gutierrez
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 James P. Bagian
Second and last spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 Tamara E. Jernigan
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 Rhea Seddon
Second spaceflight
Payload Specialist 1 F. Drew Gaffney
Only spaceflight
Payload Specialist 2 Millie Hughes-Fulford
Only spaceflight

Backup crew[edit]

Position Astronaut
Payload Specialist 2 Robert W. Phillips
First spaceflight

Crew seating arrangements[edit]

Seat[2] Launch Landing
Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck. Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.
S1 O'Connor O'Connor
S2 Gutierrez Gutierrez
S3 Bagian Bagian
S4 Jernigan Jernigan
S5 Seddon Seddon
S6 Gaffney Gaffney
S7 Hughes-Fulford Hughes-Fulford

Mission highlights[edit]

Launch of STS-40
Payload bay configuration for the STS-40 mission

The launch was originally set for May 22, 1991. The mission was postponed less than 48 hours before launch when it became known that a leaking liquid hydrogen transducer in the orbiter's main propulsion system, which was removed and replaced during leak testing in 1990, had failed an analysis by a vendor. Engineers feared that one or more of the nine liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen transducers protruding into fuel and oxidizer lines could break off and be ingested by the engine turbopumps, causing engine failure.

In addition, one of the orbiter's five general purpose computers failed completely, along with one of the multiplexer demultiplexers that controlled the orbiter's hydraulics ordinance and Orbital Maneuvering System / Reaction Control System functions in the aft compartment.

A new general purpose computer and multiplexer demultiplexer were installed and tested. One liquid hydrogen and two liquid oxygen transducers were replaced upstream in the propellant flow system near the 43 cm (17 in) disconnect area, which is protected by internal screen. Three liquid oxygen transducers were replaced in the engine manifold area, while three liquid hydrogen transducers here were removed and the openings plugged. The launch was reset for 8:00 a.m. EDT, June 1, 1991, but postponed again after several attempts to calibrate inertial measurement unit 2 failed. The unit was replaced and retested, and the launch was rescheduled for June 5, 1991.[3] The mission launched successfully on June 5, 1991, at 9:24:51 a.m. EDT and the mission had a launch weight of 114,290 kg (251,970 lb). The launch was also captured on IMAX cameras, and used in the 2015 documentary film Journey to Space.

It was the fifth dedicated Spacelab mission, Spacelab Life Sciences-1, and first dedicated solely to life sciences, using the habitable module. The mission featured the most detailed and interrelated physiological measurements in space since the 1973-1974 Skylab missions. The subjects involved were humans, 30 rodents and thousands of tiny jellyfish. Primary SLS-1 experiments studied six body systems; of 18 investigations, ten involved humans, seven involved rodents, and one used jellyfish.

Six body systems investigated were cardiovascular/cardiopulmonary (heart, lungs and blood vessels); renal/endocrine (kidneys and hormone-secreting organs and glands); blood (blood plasma); immune system (white blood cells); musculoskeletal (muscles and bones); and neurovestibular (brains and nerves, eyes and inner ear). Other payloads included twelve Getaway Special (GAS) canisters installed on GAS bridge in cargo bay for experiments in materials science, plant biology and cosmic radiation (see G-616); Middeck Zero-Gravity Dynamics Experiment (MODE); and seven Orbiter Experiments (OEX).

Columbia landed on June 14, 1991, at 8:39:11 a.m. PDT, on Runway 22, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. It returned to KSC on June 21, 1991.[4]

Wake-up calls[edit]

NASA began a tradition of playing music to astronauts during the Project Gemini, which was first used 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. [5]: 4, 23 

Day Song Artist/Composer Played For
Day 2 "Great Balls of Fire" Jerry Lee Lewis
Day 3 A "Military Medally"[a] O'Connor, Gutierrez
Day 4 "Yakety Yak" The Coasters
Day 5 Greetings from the crews' children
"Somewhere Out There" from the movie "An American Tail"
Linda Ronstadt, James Ingram
Day 6 "Cow Patty" Tammy Jernigan
Day 7 "Shout - The Faber College Theme" from the movie "Animal House" Otis Day and the Knights
Day 8 "Twistin' the Night Away" from the movie, "Animal House" Sam Cooke
Day 9 "Chain Gang" The Nylons
Day 10 "What a Wonderful World" Louis Armstrong

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Consisting of Air Force and Marine Corps songs for O'Connor and Gutierrez, a Marine Corp Colonel and an Air Force Lt. Colonel respectively.


  1. ^ Jones, Caleb. "Space Shuttle Columbia / OV-102 | STS-40". Space Launch Now. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  2. ^ "STS-40". Spacefacts. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  3. ^ "STS-40 - NASA". Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  4. ^ Dumoulin, Jim (June 29, 2001). "STS-40". Kennedy Space Center Science, Technology and Engineering. NASA/KSC Information Technology Directorate. Archived from the original on January 29, 2022. Retrieved June 2, 2024.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ Fries, Colin (March 13, 2015). "Chronology of Wakeup Calls" (PDF). NASA History Division. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 20, 2023. Retrieved January 22, 2024.

External links[edit]