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STS 49



STS 49 was the first flight of the space shuttle Endeavour. On board were Astronauts Daniel Brandenstein, Kevin Chilton, Richard Hieb, Bruce Melnick, Pierre Thout, Kathryn Thornton, and Thomas Akers.

INTELSAT VI (F-3) satellite, stranded in an unusable orbit since launch aboard a Titan vehicle in March 1990, was captured by crew members during an EVA (extravehicular activity) and equipped with a new perigee kick motor. The Satellite was subsequently released into orbit and the new motor fired to put the spacecraft into a geosynchronous orbit for operational use.

The capture required three EVAs: a planned one by astronaut Pierre J. Thuot and Richard J. Hieb who were unable to attach a capture bar to the satellite from a position on the RMS; a second unscheduled but identical attempt the following day; and finally an unscheduled but successful hand capture by Pierre J. Thuot and fellow crewmen Richard J. Hieb and Thomas D. Akers as commander Daniel C. Brandenstein delicately maneuvered the orbiter to within a few feet of the 4.5-ton communications satellite. An ASEM structure was erected in the cargo bay by the crew to serve as a platform to aid in the hand capture and subsequent attachment of the capture bar.

A planned EVA also was performed by astronauts Kathryn C. Thornton and Thomas D. Akers as part of the Assembly of Station by EVA Methods (ASEM) experiment to demonstrate and verify maintenance and assembly capabilities for Space Station Freedom. The ASEM space walk, originally scheduled for two successive days, was cut to one day because of the lengthy INTELSAT retrieval operation.

Other "payloads of opportunity" experiments conducted included: Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG), Ultraviolet Plume Imager (UVPI) and the Air Force Maui Optical Station (AMOS) investigation. Mission was extended two days to complete objectives.

The following records were set during the STS-49 mission:

* First EVA involving three astronauts. * First and second longest EVA to date: 8 hours and 29 minutes and 7 hours and 45 minutes. * First Shuttle mission to feature four EVAs. * EVA time for a single Shuttle mission: 25 hours and 27 minutes, or 59:23 person hours. * First Shuttle mission requiring three rendezvous with an orbiting spacecraft. attached a live rocket motor to an orbiting satellite. * First use of a-drag chute during a Shuttle landing.

The mission duration was 213 hours 17 minutes 38 seconds.

Alternate Names

  • 21963
  • STS49

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1992-05-07
Launch Vehicle: Shuttle
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 14786 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Flight (United States)


  • Human Crew

Additional Information

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

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