STS-61C (STS-24)


Manned Flight n: 114

Earth orbit Flight n: 111

USA manned Flight n: 55

Launch, orbit & landing data:

Designation 16481 / 86003A
Launch date - time 12 Jan 1986 - 11:55:00 UT
Launch site KSC, LC39A
Launch vehicle  Space Shuttle
Orbiter Columbia OV-102 (#7)
Primary payload RCA SATCOM K-1
Mass (kg) 
Flight Crew Gibson, Bolden, Chang-Diaz, Hawley
D.Nelson, Cenker, B.Nelson
Call Sign 
Earth orbit on :
   - Perigee / Apogee 324 / 346 km
   - Inclination 28.47°
   - Period 91.05 min
Landing date - time 18 Jan 1986 - 13:58:51 UT
Landing location Edwards AFB, Runway 22
Flight Duration 6d 02h 03m
Nbr orbits 98
Distance traveled 4,069,480 km

Mission: Materials science experiments, tests of SDI related surveillance equipment and launching a communication satellite "Satcom K1".


Nr. Surname Given name Job Duration
1  Gibson  Robert Lee "Hoot"  CDR 6d 02h 03m 
2  Bolden  Charles Frank, Jr.  PLT 6d 02h 03m 
3  Chang-Diaz  Franklin Ramon  MSP 6d 02h 03m 
4  Hawley  Steven Alan  MSP 6d 02h 03m 
5  Nelson  George Driver "Pinky"  MSP 6d 02h 03m 
6  Cenker  Robert Joseph, Jr.  PSP 6d 02h 03m 
7  Nelson  Clarence William, Jr. "Bill"  PSP 6d 02h 03m 

Mission details:

Launch from Cape Canaveral (KSC); landing on Edwards AFB; communications satellite Satcom-KU1 successfully deployed; observation of comet Halley; materials sciences experiments; Congressman Bill Nelson second poltician in space.

Payload: Columbia F07 Satcom-K 1 [PAM-D2]. Mass: 14,724 kg.
STS-61-CSTS-61-C - Piece of thermal insulation tile floats near the Shuttle Columbia - Credit: NASA.

Manned seven crew. Launched Satcom K1. Payloads: Deploy SATCOM (RCA-Satellite Communi-cations) Ku-1 with Payload Assist Module (PAM)-D II. Materials Science Laboratory, Comet Halley Active Monitoring Experiment (CHAMP), Hitchhiker (HH) Goddard (G)-1, thirteen getaway specials (GAS), student experiment, Initial Blood Storage Equipment (lBSE), Characterization of Space Motion Sickness (SMS).

STS-61-C STS-61-C - Representative Bill Nelson prepares to eat a peeled grapefruit - Credit: NASA.

Orbiter Liftoff Mass: 116,121 kg. Orbiter Mass at Landing: 95,325 kg. Payload to Orbit: 14,724 kg. Payload Returned: 9,122 kg. Landed at: Concrete runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base, Cali. Landing Speed: 402 kph. Touchdown miss distance: 464 m. Landing Rollout: 3,109 m.

STS-61-C STS-61-C - Astronaut Charles Bolden in pilots station prior to entry - Credit: NASA.

NASA Official Mission Narrative

Mission Name: 61-C (24)
Pad 39-A (36)
24th Shuttle mission
RSLS Abort (3)
Extended mission
Diverted landing
2nd Night landing

Robert L. Gibson (2), Commander
Charles F. Bolden (1), Jr., Pilot
Franklin R. Chang-Diaz (1), Mission Specialist 1
Steven A. Hawley (2), Mission Specialist 1
George D. Nelson (2), Mission Specialist 2
Robert J. Cenker (1), Payload Specialist 1
Congressman Bill Nelson (1), Payload Specialist 2

STS-61-CSTS-61-C - Astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz checking payload bay through aft deck window - Credit: NASA.

OPF - July 18, 1985
VAB - Sept.6, 1985
OPF - Sept. 26, 1985
VAB - Nov. 22, 1985
PAD - Dec. 2, 1985

Mission Objectives:

January 12, 1986, 6:55:00 a.m. EST. Launch set for Dec. 18, 1985 delayed one day when additional time needed to close out orbiter aft compartment. Launch attempt Dec. 19 scrubbed at T- 14 seconds due to indication that right solid rocket booster hydraulic power unit exceeding RPM redline speed limits. (Later determined as false reading.) After 18-day delay, launch attempt Jan. 6, 1986 halted at T-31 seconds due to accidental draining of approximately 4,000 pounds of liquid oxygen from external tank. Launch attempt Jan. 7 scrubbed at T-9 minutes due to bad weather at both transoceanic abort landing sites (Moron, Spain and Dakar, Senegal). After two-day delay, launch set for Jan. 9 delayed due to launch pad liquid oxygen sensor breaking off and lodging in number two main engine prevalve. Launch set for Jan. 10 delayed two days due to heavy rains. Launch countdown Jan. 12 proceeded with no delays. Launch Weight: 256,003 lbs.
Altitude: 212nm
Inclination: 28.5 degrees
Orbits: 98
Duration: Six days, two hours, three minutes, 51 seconds.
Distance: 2,528,658 miles

STS-61-CSTS-61-C - Four STS 61-C crewmembers gather at the commander's station - Credit: NASA.

SRB: BI-024
SRM: L024(HPM)
ET : 30/LWT-23
MLP : 1
SSME-1: SN-2015
SSME-2: SN-2018
SSME-3: SN-2109

January 18,1986, 5:58:51 a.m, PST, Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Rollout distance: 10,202 feet. Rollout time: 59 seconds. Planned landing at KSC, originally scheduled for Jan. 17, moved to Jan. 16 to save orbiter turnaround time. Landing attempts on Jan. 16 and 17 abandoned due to unacceptable weather at KSC. Landing set for Jan. 18 at KSC but persisting bad weather forced a one revolution extension of mission and landing at Edwards. Orbiter returned to KSC Jan. 23, 1986. Landing Weight: 210,161 lbs.

STS-61-CSTS-61-C - The SATCOM Ku-1 commuications satellite deployed from Columbia - Credit: NASA.

Mission Highlights:
SATCOM KU-I (RCA Americom) satellite, attached to Payload Assist Module-D2 (PAM-D2) motor, was deployed. Comet Halley Active Monitoring Program (CHAMP) experiment, a 35mm camera to photograph Comet Halley, did not function properly due to battery problems. Other payloads: Materials Science Laboratory-2 (MSL-2); Hitchhiker G-1; Infrared Imaging Experiment (IR-IE); Initial Blood Storage Experiment (IBSE); Hand-held Protein Crystal Growth (HPCG) experiment; three Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiments and 13 Get Away Specials (GAS), 12 of them mounted on a special GAS Bridge Assembly.
STS-61-C STS-61-C - Night landing of Shuttle Columbia at Edwards AFB and end of STS 61-C mission - Credit: NASA.

Ref.: #1, #3(SD191), #7, #8, #16 - update: 16.03.06 Home