Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 8, 1993 at 1:29 AM EST and landed at Kennedy on April 17 at 7:37 AM EDT. The shuttle orbited 148 times at an altitude of 160 nautical miles at an inclination of 57 degrees and travelled 3.9 million miles. The mission lasted 9 days, 6 hours, 8 minutes, and 24 seconds.
The primary payload of the flight was the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science-2 (ATLAS-2), designed to collect data on relationship between sun’s energy output and Earth’s middle atmosphere and how these factors affect ozone layer. Included six instruments mounted on Spacelab pallet in cargo bay, with seventh mounted on wall of bay in two Get Away Special canisters. Atmospheric instruments were Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy (ATMOS) experiment; Millimeter Wave Atmospheric Sounder (MAS); and Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet/A (SSBUV/A) spectrometer (on cargo bay wall). Solar science instruments were Solar Spectrum Measurement (SOLSPEC) instrument; Solar Ultraviolet Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM); and Active Cavity Radiometer (ACR) and Solar Constant (SOLCON) experiments.
ATLAS-2 is one element of NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth program. All seven ATLAS-2 instruments first flew on ATLAS-I during STS-45, and will fly a third time in late 1994.
On April 11, crew used remote manipulator arm to deploy Shuttle Point Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy-201 (SPARTAN-201), a free-flying science instrument platform designed to study velocity and acceleration of solar wind and observe sun’s corona. Collected data was stored on tape for playback after return to Earth. SPARTAN-201 retrieved on April 13.
Crew also made numerous radio contacts to schools around world using Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment II (SAREX II), including a brief radio contact with Russian Mir space station, first such contact between Shuttle and Mir using amateur radio equipment.
Other cargo bay payloads: Solar Ultraviolet Experiment (SUVE), sponsored by Colorado Space Grant Consortium, and located in Get Away Special canister on cargo bay wall.
Middeck payloads: Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Instrumentation Technology Associates Experiment (CMIX); Physiological and Anatomical Rodent Experiment (PARE); Space Tissue Loss (STL-1); Cosmic Ray Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM) experiment; Hand-held, Earth-oriented, Real-time, Cooperative, User-friendly, Location-targeting and Environmental System (HERCULES); Radiation Monitoring Equipment III (RE III); and Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) calibration test.\
Discovery was crewed by Commander Kenneth D. Cameron, Pilot Stephen S. Oswald, and Mission Specialists C. Michael Foale, Kenneth D. Cockrell, and Ellen Ochoa.