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STS-49

This was the first flight of Endeavour. Endeavour launched on May 7, 1992 at 7:40 PM EDT and Landed at Edwards AFB on May 16 at 1:57 PM PDT. The shuttle orbited 141 times at an inclination of 28.35 degrees at an altitude of 195 nautical miles. The mission lasted 8 days, 21 hours, 17 minutes, and 38 seconds.

A satellite was moved to a corrected orbit using three spacewalks. A fourth spacewalk was conducted as practice for assembling Space Station Freedom.

The INTELSAT VI (F-3) satellite, stranded in an unusable orbit since its launch aboard a Titan vehicle in March 1990, was captured by crewmembers 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. The mission was extended two days to complete all of the objectives.

Endeavour was crewed by Commander Daniel C. Brandenstein, Pilot Kevin P. Chilton, Mission Specialists Pierre J. Thuot, Kathryn C. Thornton, Richard J. Hieb, Thomas D. Akers, and Bruce E. Melnick

STS-49


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