Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center on August 27, 19885 at 6:58 AM EDT and landed at Edwards Air Force Base on September 3 at 6:15 AM PDT. The shuttle orbited 112 times at an altitude of 242 nautical miles at an inclination of 28.45 degrees and travelled 2.9 million miles.

The launch scheduled for August 24 was scrubbed at T-5 minutes due to thunderstorms in the vicinity. The launch scheduled for August 25 was delayed when the orbiter’s number five on-board general purpose computer failed. The launch on August 27 was delayed three minutes, one second due to a combination of weather and an unauthorized ship entering the restricted solid rocket booster recovery area.

The mission was shortened one day when the AUSSAT sunshield hung up on the remote manipulator system camera and AUSSAT had to be deployed before scheduled.

Three communications satellites were deployed: ASC-1, for American Satellite Company; AUSSAT-1, an Australian Communications Satellite; and SYNCOM IV-4, the Synchronous Communications Satellite. ASC-1 and AUSSAT-1 both attached to Payload Assist Module-D (PAM-D) motors. SYNCOM IV-4 (also known as LEASAT-4) failed to function after reaching the correct geosynchronous orbit. Fisher and van Hoften performed two extravehicular activities (EVAs) totaling 11 hours, 51 minutes. Part of time spent retrieving, repairing and redeploying LEASAT-3, which had been deployed on Mission 51-D. Middeck Payload: Physical Vapor Transport Organic Solid Experiment (PVTOS).

Discovery was crewed by Commander Joe H. Engle, Pilot Richard O. Covey, and Mission Specialists James D.A van Hoften, John M. Lounge, and William F. Fischer.