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The Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) was developed by the NASA Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology and the NASA/Langley Research Center. The purpose of the LDEF was to accommodate, using the Shuttle, a class of technology, science, and applications experiments that require a free-flying exposure in space. These experiments benefit from postflight laboratory studies with the retrieved experiment hardware. The LDEF was a simple reusable structure approximately 4.3 m in diameter and 9.1 m in length. The experiments were contained in trays mounted to the structure. While the LDEF had no central power or data system, it did, however, provide initiation and termination signals at the start and end of the mission. Any required power and/or data systems were included by the experimenter in his respective tray. Standard Experiment Power and Data Systems were designed for use in LDEF trays and these could be procured by the experimenters. The LDEF had a gravity-gradient stabilized orbit orientation. In January 1990, during the flight of STS-32, (1990-002A), the LDEF was retrieved and returned to Earth. It is being examined by investigation groups composed of specialists in meteoroids and space debris, materials, spacecraft systems, and radiation. Following the examinations, it is planned to remove the experiment trays from the LDEF structure and to distribute them to the investigators for data analysis.

Alternate Names

  • 14898
  • LDEF
  • LDEF 1/STS 41C
  • LDEF-A
  • LDEF1
  • Long Duration Exposure Facility

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1984-04-06
Launch Vehicle: Shuttle
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 9710 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Space Physics
  • Life Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Richard A. GualdoniProgram ManagerNASA Headquarters
Dr. Leo P. Daspit, Jr.Project ManagerNASA Langley Research Center
Dr. William H. KinardProject ScientistNASA Langley Research

Related Information/Data at NSSDCA

STS 41C (LDEF Deployment Mission)
STS 32 (LDEF Retrieval Mission)

Other Sources of LDEF Information/Data

Long Duration Exposure Facility Archive System (NASA LaRC)

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