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Components of the ATLAS-2 laboratory in the payload bay of Discovery
NamesSpace Transportation System-56
Mission typeScientific
COSPAR ID1993-023A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.22621
Mission duration9 days, 6 hours, 8 minutes, 24 seconds
Distance travelled6,202,407 km (3,853,997 mi)
Orbits completed148
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Discovery
Landing mass93,683 kg (206,536 lb)
Payload mass7,026 kg (15,490 lb)
Crew size5
Start of mission
Launch dateApril 8, 1993, 05:29:00 UTC
RocketSpace Shuttle Discovery
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39B
ContractorRockwell International
End of mission
Landing dateApril 17, 1993, 11:37:19 UTC
Landing siteKennedy Space Center,
SLF Runway 33
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Periapsis altitude291 km (181 mi)
Apoapsis altitude299 km (186 mi)
Period90.40 minutes
  • Active Cavity Radiometer (ACR)
  • Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS)
  • Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy (ATMOS)
  • Commercial Materials dispersion apparatus Instrumentation technology associates Experiment (CMIX)
  • Cosmic Ray Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM)
  • Get Away Special (GAS)
  • Hand-held, Earth-oriented, Real-time, Cooperative, User-friendly, Location-targeting and Environmental System (HERCULES)
  • Millimeter Wave Atmospheric Sounder (MAS)
  • Physiological and Anatomical Rodent Experiment (PARE)
  • Radiation Monitoring Equipment (RME III)
  • Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX II)
  • Solar Spectroscopy Instrument (SOLSPEC)
  • Solar Ultraviolet Experiment (SUVE)
  • Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV/A)
  • Solar Constant (SOLCON)
  • Space Tissue Loss (STL-1)
  • Solar Ultraviolet Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM)

STS-56 mission patch

Standing: Cockrell, Foale, Ochoa
Seated: Oswald, Cameron
← STS-54 (53)
STS-55 (55) →

STS-56 was a NASA Space Shuttle Discovery mission to perform special experiments. The mission was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 8, 1993.


Position Astronaut
Commander United States Kenneth D. Cameron
Second spaceflight
Pilot United States Stephen S. Oswald
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 United Kingdom United States Michael Foale
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 United States Kenneth Cockrell
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 United States Ellen Ochoa
First spaceflight

Mission highlights[edit]

The primary payload of the flight was the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science-2 (ATLAS-2), designed to collect data on the relationship between the Sun's energy output and Earth's middle atmosphere and how these factors affect the ozone layer. It included six instruments mounted on a Spacelab pallet in the cargo bay, with the seventh mounted on the wall of the bay in two Get Away Special (GAS) canisters. Atmospheric instruments included the Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy (ATMOS) experiment, the Millimeter Wave Atmospheric Sounder (MAS), and the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV/A) spectrometer (on the cargo bay wall). Solar science instruments were the solar spectrometry instrument SOLSPEC,[1] the Solar Ultraviolet Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM), and the Active Cavity Radiometer (ACR) and Solar Constant (SOLCON) experiments.[2]

ATLAS-2 is one element of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth program. All seven ATLAS-2 instruments first flew on ATLAS-1 during STS-45, and flew a third time in late 1994 on STS-66.[2]

On April 11, 1993, the crew used the remote manipulator arm (Canadarm) to deploy the Shuttle Point Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy-201 (SPARTAN-201), a free-flying science instrument platform designed to study velocity and acceleration of the solar wind and observe the Sun's corona. Collected data was stored on tape for playback after return to Earth. SPARTAN-201 was retrieved on April 13, 1993.[2]

The crew also made numerous radio contacts to schools around the world using the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX II), including brief radio contact with the Russian Mir space station, the first such contact between Space Shuttle and Mir using amateur radio equipment. It was arguably the first time that the astronauts received amateur television video from the ham radio club station (W5RRR) at JSC.[2]

Other cargo bay payloads were the Solar Ultraviolet Experiment (SUVE), sponsored by Colorado Space Grant Consortium and located in a GetAway Special canister on the cargo bay wall.[2]

The middeck payloads were the Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Instrumentation Technology Associates Experiment (CMIX), the Physiological and Anatomical Rodent Experiment (PARE), Space Tissue Loss (STL-1) experiment, the Cosmic Ray Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM) experiment. the Hand-held, Earth-oriented, Real-time, Cooperative, User-friendly, Location-targeting and Environmental System (HERCULES), Radiation Monitoring Equipment (RME III), and an Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) calibration test.[2]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Background". SOLSPEC. Institut Pierre Simon Laplace. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ryba, Jeanne. "STS-56". NASA. Retrieved March 11, 2022.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

External links[edit]