Challenger launched from Kennedy Space Center on August 30, 1983 at 2:32 AM (EDT) and landed at Edwards Air Force Base on September 5, 1983 at 12:40 AM (PDT). The shuttle orbited 98 times at an altitude of 191 nautical miles at an inclination of 28.5 degrees and travelled 2.5 million miles. The mission lasted for 6 days, 1 hour, 8 minutes, and 43 seconds.

On this mission Guion Bluford became the first African-American to travel to space. A multi-purpose satellite was deployed for India. The nose of the shuttle was held away from the sun for 14 hours to test the conditions on the flight deck in extreme cold. The crew filmed the performance of an experimental heat pipe in the cargo bay. The orbiter dropped 139 miles in altitude and tested thin atmospheric oxygen to identify the source of a glow that surrounded parts of the shuttle at night

The remote manipulator system was tested for reactions of the joint on higher loads. Six rats were observed to record animal reactions in space. Investigations continued of Space Adaptation Syndrome among the astronauts themselves. Tests were completed on radio communications between the shuttle and the tracking satellite. Other payloads were the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES); Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSlP) experiment; Incubator-Cell Attachment Test (l CAT); Investigation of STS Atmospheric Luminosities (ISAL); Radiation Monitoring Equipment (RME); and five Get Away Special experiment packages including eight cans of postal covers.

Challenger was crewed by Commander Richard H. Truly, Pilot Daniel C. Brandenstein, and Mission Specialists Dale A. Gardner, Guion S. Bluford, and William E. Thornton.