Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center on October 18, 1989 at 12:53 PM EDT and landed at Edwards Air Force Base on October 23 at 9:33 AM EDT. The shuttle orbited 79 times at an altitude of 185 nautical miles at an inclination of 34.3 degrees and travelled 2 million miles. The mission lasted 4 days, 23 hours, 39 minutes, and 21 seconds.
The purpose of the mission was to launch the Galileo probe to Jupiter.
The Galileo/Jupiter spacecraft and attached Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), was deployed six hours, 30 minutes into the flight. IUS stages fired, placing Galileo on trajectory for six-year trip to Jupiter via gravitational boosts from Venus and Earth and possible observational brushes with asteroids Gaspra and Ida. Secondary payloads included Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV) experiment carried in cargo bay, and in crew cabin, Growth Hormone Crystal Distribution (GHCD); Polymer Morphology (PM), Sensor Technology Experiment (STEX); Mesoscale Lightning Experiment (MLE); IMAX camera; Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiment that investigated ice crystal formation in zero gravity; and ground-based Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) experiment.
The launch set for October 12 was rescheduled due to a faulty main engine controller on number the two main engine. The launch set for October 17 was rescheduled due to weather constraints for a return-to-launch-site landing at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility.
Atlantis was crewed by Commander Donald E. Williams, Pilot Michael J. McCulley, and Mission Specialists Franklin R. Chang Diaz, Shannon W. Lucid, and Ellen S. Baker.