Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center on June 25,1992 at 12:23 PM EDT and landed at Kennedy on July 9 at 7:42 AM EDT. The shuttle orbited 221 times at an altitude of 160 nautical miles at an inclination of 28.45 degrees and travelled 5.8 million miles. The mission lasted 13 days, 19 hours, 30 minutes, and 4 seconds.

This was the longest mission to date, close to 14 days. The mission’s primary purpose was to study the effects of microgravity on humans.

The primary payload was the United States Microgravity Laboratory-I (USML-1), a manned Spacelab module with a connecting tunnel to the orbiter crew compartment. USML-1 was a national effort to advance microgravity research in a broad number of disciplines. The 13 day mission, the first Extended Duration Orbiter flight and the longest space shuttle mission to date, also provided new information on the effects of long-term human stay in space. Experiments conducted were: Crystal Growth Furnace (CGF), Drop Physics Module (DPM), Surface Tension Driven Convection Experiment (STDCE), Zeolite Crystal Growth (ZCG), Protein Crystal Growth (PCG), Glovebox Facility (GBX), Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS), Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (GBA), Astroculture-1 (ASC), Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project (EDOMP), and Solid Surface Combustion Experiment (SSCE).

Secondary experiments included Investigation in Polymer Membrane Processing (IPMP), Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment II (SAREX-II), and Ultraviolet Plume Instrument (UVPI).

Columbia was crewed by Commander Richard N. Richards, Pilot Kenneth D. Bowersox, Mission Specialists Bonnie J. Dunbar, Ellen S. Baker, and Carl J. Meade, and Payload Specialists Lawrence J. DeLucas, and Eugene H. Trihn.