Challenger launched from Kennedy Space Center on October 30, 1985 at 12:00 PM EST and landed at Edwards Air Force Base on November 6 at 9:44 AM PST. The shuttle orbited 112 times at an altitude of 207 nautical miles at an inclination of 57 degrees. The mission lasted 7 days, 0 hours, 44 minutes, and 51 seconds.

The dedicated German Spacelab (D-1) mission was conducted in a long module configuration, which featured a Vestibular Sled designed to give scientists data on the functional organization of human vestibular and orientation systems. Spacelab D-1 encompassed 75 numbered experiments, most performed more than once.

The mission included basic and applied microgravity research in fields of materials science, life sciences and technology, and communications and navigation.

Though the orbiter was controlled from Johnson Space Center, scientific operations were controlled from the German Space Operations Center at Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich. Other objectives: Global Low Orbiting Message Relay (GLOMR) satellite deployed from Get Away Special canister.

Challenger was crewed by Commander Henry W. Hartsfield, Pilot Stephen R. Nagle, Mission Specialists James F. Buchli, Guion S Bluford, and Bonnie J. Dunbar, and Payload Specialists Reinhard Furrer (Germany), Ernst Messersmidt (Germany), and Wubbo J. Ockels (Holland)