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Liftoff of the first flight of Atlantis and the STS 51-J mission.
|Mission type||Satellite deployment|
|Mission duration||4 days, 1 hour, 44 minutes, 38 seconds|
|Distance travelled||2,707,948 kilometres (1,682,641 mi)|
|Spacecraft||Space Shuttle Atlantis|
|Landing mass||86,400 kilograms (190,400 lb)|
|Payload mass||19,968 kilograms (44,022 lb)|
|Members||Karol J. Bobko
Ronald J. Grabe
David C. Hilmers
Robert L. Stewart
William A. Pailes
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||3 October 1985, 15:15:30UTC|
|Launch site||Kennedy LC-39A|
|End of mission|
|Landing date||7 October 1985, 17:00:08UTC|
|Landing site||Edwards Runway 23|
|Perigee||475 kilometres (295 mi)|
|Apogee||484 kilometres (301 mi)|
L-R: Stewart, Hilmers, Bobko, Pailes, Grabe
STS-51-J was the 21st NASA Space Shuttle mission and the first flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis. It launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 3 October 1985, carrying a payload for the U.S. Department of Defense, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on 7 October.
|Commander||Karol J. Bobko
Third and last spaceflight
|Pilot||Ronald J. Grabe
|Mission Specialist 1||David C. Hilmers
|Mission Specialist 2||Robert L. Stewart
Second and last spaceflight
|Payload Specialist 1||William A. Pailes, MSE
|Payload Specialist 1||Michael W. Booen, MSE
Before William Pailes was assigned to the STS-51-J flight, Richard M. Mullane was rumored to have been assigned as Mission Specialist 3 on his second trip to space.
STS-51-J launched on 3 October 1985, at 11:15 EDT, from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The launch was delayed by 22 minutes and 30 seconds due to a problem with a main engine liquid hydrogen prevalve close remote power controller; the controller was showing a faulty "on" indication.
The mission was the second shuttle flight totally dedicated to deploying a Department of Defense payload, after STS-51-C. Its cargo was classified, but it was reported that two (USA-11 and USA-12) DSCS-III (Defense Satellite Communications System) satellites were launched into stationary orbits by an Inertial Upper Stage. The DSCS satellites used X-band frequencies (8/7 GHz). Each DSCS-III satellite had a design life of ten years, although several of the DSCS satellites have far exceeded their design life expectancy.
The mission was deemed successful. After a flight lasting 4 days, 1 hour and 45 minutes, Atlantis landed on Runway 23 at Edwards Air Force Base at 13:00 EDT on 7 October 1985. During STS-51-J, mission commander Karol Bobko became the first astronaut to fly on three different shuttle orbiters, and the only astronaut to fly on the maiden voyages of two different orbiters.
- Day, Dwayne (2010). "A lighter shade of black: the (non) mystery of STS-51J". The Space Review. Retrieved 4 January 2010.