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STS-61-C

Space Shuttle Columbia / OV-102

Lockheed Space Operations Company

Launch Status
Success

Crew


Robert L. Gibson

Robert L. Gibson

  • Birthday: 10/30/1946
  • Role: Commander
  • Nationality: American
  • First Flight: 02/03/1984
  • Last Flight: 06/27/1995

Robert Lee “Hoot” Gibson is a former American naval officer and aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, and a retired NASA astronaut, as well as a professional pilot who currently races regularly at the annual Reno Air Races.

Charles Bolden

Charles Bolden

  • Birthday: 08/19/1946
  • Role: Pilot
  • Nationality: American
  • First Flight: 01/12/1986
  • Last Flight: 02/03/1994

Charles Frank Bolden Jr. is a former Administrator of NASA, a retired United States Marine Corps Major General, and a former NASA astronaut.

A 1968 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he became a Marine Aviator and test pilot. After his service as an astronaut, he became Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy.

On May 23, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Bolden as NASA Administrator and Lori Garver as Deputy NASA Administrator. Bolden was confirmed by the Senate on July 15, 2009. He was the first African American to head the agency on a permanent basis.

On January 12, 2017, Bolden announced his resignation from NASA during a town hall meeting at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. His last day would be January 19, and Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. was announced as acting NASA Administrator.

Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson

  • Birthday: 09/29/1942
  • Role: Payload Specialist
  • Nationality: American
  • First Flight: 01/12/1986
  • Last Flight: 01/12/1986

Clarence William Nelson II (born September 29, 1942) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Florida, first elected to that seat in 2000. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1972 to 1978 and in the United States House of Representatives from 1979 to 1991. In January 1986, he became the second sitting member of Congress to fly in space when he served as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Robert J. Cenker

Robert J. Cenker

  • Birthday: 11/05/1948
  • Role: Payload Specialist
  • Nationality: American
  • First Flight: 01/12/1986
  • Last Flight: 01/12/1986

Robert Joseph “Bob” Cenker (born November 5, 1948) is an American aerospace and electrical engineer, aerospace systems consultant, and former astronaut. Cenker worked for 18 years at RCA Astro-Electronics, and its successor company GE Astro Space, on a variety of spacecraft projects. He spent most of his career working on commercial communications satellites, including the Satcom, Spacenet and GStar programs.

In January 1986, Cenker was a crew member on the twenty-fourth mission of NASA’s Space Shuttle program, the seventh flight of Space Shuttle Columbia, designated as mission STS-61-C. Cenker served as a Payload Specialist, representing RCA Astro-Electronics. This mission was the final flight before the Challenger disaster, which caused the Space Shuttle program to be suspended until 1988, and impacted NASA’s Payload Specialist program for even longer. As a result, Cenker’s mission was called “The End of Innocence” for the Shuttle program. Following the completion of his Shuttle mission, Cenker returned to work in the commercial aerospace field. Since his flight, he has made numerous public appearances representing NASA and the Shuttle program, in the United States, as well as internationally.

George Nelson

George Nelson

  • Birthday: 07/13/1950
  • Role: Mission Specialist
  • Nationality: American
  • First Flight: 04/06/1984
  • Last Flight: 09/29/1988

George Driver “Pinky” Nelson is an American physicist, astronomer, science educator, and a former NASA astronaut.

Steven Hawley

Steven Hawley

  • Birthday: 12/12/1951
  • Role: Mission Specialist
  • Nationality: American
  • First Flight: 08/30/1984
  • Last Flight: 07/23/1999

Steven Alan Hawley is a former NASA astronaut who flew on five U.S. Space Shuttle flights. He is professor of physics and astronomy and director of engineering physics at the University of Kansas.

Following an aborted attempt to launch STS-41-D where two main engines were stopped shortly after they started because the third failed to start, Hawley is reported to have broken the tense atmosphere in the shuttle cabin, saying, “I thought we’d be a lot higher at MECO!”

Franklin Chang Díaz

Franklin Chang Díaz

  • Birthday: 04/05/1950
  • Role: Mission Specialist
  • Nationality: American
  • First Flight: 01/12/1986
  • Last Flight: 06/05/2002

Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz is a Costa Rican Chinese American mechanical engineer, physicist, former NASA astronaut. He is the founder and current CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company as well as a member of Cummins’ board of directors. He became an American citizen in 1977. He is of Chinese (paternal side) and Costa Rican Spanish (maternal side) descent. He is a veteran of seven Space Shuttle missions, tieing the record, as of 2018 for the most spaceflights (a record set by Jerry L. Ross). He was the third Latin American, but the first Latin American immigrant NASA Astronaut selected to go into space. Chang Díaz is a member of the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Mission


STS-61-C

  • Type: Communications
  • Orbit: Low Earth Orbit
  • Launch Cost: $450,000,000

STS-61-C was the twenty-fourth mission of the shuttle program and the seventh of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The mission included the second African-American shuttle pilot, future NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, the first Costa Rican born astronaut and the second sitting politican to fly in space: Bill Nelson.

STS-61-C

Location


Launch Complex 39A

Kennedy Space Center, FL, USA

Launch Complex 39A has witnessed the launch of 169 rockets, including 168 orbital launch attempts, while Kennedy Space Center, FL, USA, has been the site for 227 rocket launches.

Launch Complex 39A

Rocket


National Aeronautics and Space Administration Space Shuttle

The Space Shuttle is a retired, partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space Transportation System (STS). Five complete Space Shuttle orbiter vehicles were built and flown on a total of 135 missions from 1981 to 2011.

Space Shuttle

Agency


Lockheed Space Operations Company

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