Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center on March 13, 1989 at 9:67 AM EST and landed at Edwards Air Force Base on March 18 at 6:35 AM PST. The shuttle orbited 80 times at an altitude of 184 nautical miles at an inclination of 28.5 degrees and travelled 2 million miles. The mission lasted 4 days, 23 hours, 38 minutes, and 50 seconds.

The crew photographed Earth with a handheld IMAX camera. The launch manifested for February 18 was reassessed for a late February/early March launch to replace suspect liquid oxygen turbopumps on Discovery’s three main engines and faulty master events controller. The launch on March 13 was delayed 1 hour, 50 minutes due to morning ground fog and upper winds.

The primary payload, Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-4 (TDRS-4) which was attached to an Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), became the third TDRS to be deployed. After deployment, the IUS propelled the satellite to a geosynchronous orbit. Secondary payloads: Orbiter Experiments Autonomous Supporting Instrumentation System-1 (OASIS-1); Space Station Heat Pipe Advanced Radiator Experiment (SHARE); Protein Crystal Growth (PCG); Chromosomes and Plant Cell Division (CHROMEX); two Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiments; and Air Force experiment using orbiter as calibration target for ground-based experiment for Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) in Hawaii.

Discovery was crewed by Commander Michael L Coats, Pilot John E. Blaha, and Mission Specialists James P. Bagian, James F. Buchli, and Robert C Springer.


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