Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center on November 28, 1983 at 11:00 AM (EST) and landed at Edwards Air Force Base on December 8, 1983 at 3:47 AM (PST). The shuttle orbited 167 times at an inclination of 57 degrees and travelled 4.3 million miles. The mission lasted 10 days, 7 hours, 47 minutes, and 24 seconds.

This mission was the first time 6 people were carried into space on one shuttle, and it carried the first Spacelab mission and the first European crew member, Ulf Merbold of Germany. The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA jointly sponsored the Spacelab mission to forward advanced research in space. Spacelab was an orbital laboratory with cylindrical pressurized modules and unpressurized U-shaped pallets stored in the cargo bay during launch. 73 separate experiments and observations were carried out in the fields of astronomy, atmospheric physics, Earth observations, biology, materials science, space plasma physics, and technology.

Columbia was crewed by Commander John W. Young, Pilot Brewster H. Shaw, and Mission Specialists Owen K. Garriot, Byron K. Lichtenberg, Robert A.R. Parker, and Ulf Merbold (Germany).