The third space shuttle mission launched from Kennedy Space Center on March 22, 1982 at 11:00 AM (EST) and landed at White Sands, NM on March 30 at 9:04 AM (MST). Columbia orbited 130 times at an altitude of 147 nautical miles at an inclination of 38 degrees and travelled 3.335 million miles. Total mission duration was 8 days, 0 hours, 4 minutes, and 46 seconds.

Payloads included the 8,740 lbs. Office of Space Science (OSS-1) Pallet consisting of the Plant Lignification Experiment, the Plasma Diagnostic Package (PDP), the Vehicle Charging and Potential (VCAP) experiment, the Space Shuttle Induced Atmosphere experiment, the Thermal Canister experiment, the Solar Flare X-Ray Polarimeter, the Solar Ultraviolet and Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM), the Contamination Monitor Package and the Foil Microabrasion Package. Also in the payload bay was the 11,048 lbs. Development Flight Instrumentation (DFI) Pallet and the 448 lbs. Aerodynamic Coefficient Identification Package (ACIP).

The launch was briefly delayed by the failure of a heater on a ground support line. Testing of all systems during launch, orbit, re-entry, and landing continued. Data on the near Earth space environment was collected, including measurements of contamination by gases and dust from the shuttle itself. Problems during the mission included space sickness, a malfunctioning toilet, three losses of communication links, difficulty with the cabin thermostat, and unexplained static interfering with the crews sleep. An auxiliary power unit overheated during the ascent but functioned during descent.

Columbia was crewed by Commander Jack R. Lousma and Pilot C. Gordon Fullerton.