From Academic Kids

Mission Insignia

Mission Statistics
Launch Pad:39-B
Launch:October 18, 1989,
12:53:40 p.m. EDT
Landing:October 23, 1989,
9:33:00 a.m. PDT
Duration:4 days, 23 hours,
39 minutes, 20 seconds
Orbit Altitude:185 nautical miles (343 km)
Orbit Inclination:34.3 degrees
Distance Traveled:2,000,000 miles (3,200,000 km) approx
Crew photo
Missing image

STS-34 was a space shuttle mission by NASA using the Space Shuttle Atlantis. It was the 31st shuttle mission, and the 5th flight for Atlantis. It carried the Galileo probe bound for Jupiter.


Mission Parameters

Mission highlights

The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Pad B, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 12:53 p.m. EDT on Oct. 18, 1989. It carried the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft in its cargo bay. The countdown was held at T minus 5 minutes for 3 minutes and 40 seconds to update the onboard computer for a change in the Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) site. The TAL site was changed from Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco, to Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, because of rain at Ben Guerir.

Launch was originally targeted for Oct. 12, the first day of the 41-day launch period during which the planets are properly aligned for a flight past Venus and Earth and, eventually, to Jupiter. Liftoff was rescheduled for Oct. 17 to replace a faulty main engine controller for Space Shuttle Main Engine No. 2. It was postponed again until Oct. 18 because of rainshowers within 20 miles of Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. The weather conditions were in violation of the launch commit criteria for a Return To Launch Site (RTLS) landing in the event of an aborted flight. It was the fifth flight of Atlantis and the 31st Space Shuttle mission.

The primary payload, the Project Galileo spacecraft with its attached Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), was successfully deployed on its journey to Jupiter. This was only the second Shuttle flight to deploy a planetary spacecraft. (The first was STS-30 on May 4, 1989, with the Magellan spacecraft.)

NASA marks a number of firsts with STS-34. Galileo will be the first spacecraft to orbit an outer planet and to penetrate the atmosphere of an outer planet. Also, the spacecraft is scheduled to make the first extended observations of the Jovian system and first direct sampling of Jupiter's atmosphere, as well as the first asteroid flybys.

There were several anomalies during the flight, but none had a major impact on the mission. On Oct. 22, an alarm woke the crew when the gas generator fuel pump system A heaters on Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) 2 failed to recycle at the upper limits of the system. There were also some minor problems with the Flash Evaporator System for cooling the orbiter, and the cryogenic oxygen manifold valve 2, which was left closed for the rest of the mission. A Hasselblad camera jammed twice, and a spare camera had to be used.

Because of high winds predicted at the nominal landing time, the landing was moved two orbits earlier to 12:33 EDT. Atlantis landed at Runway 23, Edwards AFB, CA, after a mission duration of 4 days, 23 hours and 40 minutes.

Crew. The crew members were Commander Donald E. Williams, Pilot Michael J. McCulley, and Mission Specialists Ellen S. Baker, Franklin R. Chang-Diaz and Shannon W. Lucid. McCulley and Baker were making their first flight.

Payload and Experiments. The first major task in orbit was deployment of the Galileo spacecraft with its attached IUS booster. Deployment occurred on schedule at 7:15 EDT, slightly more than six hours after launch, and the IUS performed flawlessly to send the spacecraft toward Venus on the first leg of its six-year journey to Jupiter. The spacecraft was injected on a Venus transfer orbit at 8:20 p.m. EDT, and separated from the IUS 47 minutes later.

Galileo will need a triple gravity assist -- from Venus, Earth and then Earth again -- to propel it from the inner part of the solar system to Jupiter in the outer section. Galileo has two major components, an orbiter which will examine Jupiter and its four largest moons for at least two years, and a probe which will take direct samplings of the Jovian atmosphere for up to 75 minutes before heat and pressure destroy it.

Besides the Galileo spacecraft, the payload bay held two canisters containing the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV) experiment. SSBUV, which made its first flight on STS-34, was developed by NASA to check the calibration of the ozone sounders on free-flying satellites, and to verify the accuracy of atmospheric ozone and solar irradiance data. The experiment operated successfully.

All five middeck experiments also were deemed to have operated successfully. That includes the Polymer Morphology (PM) experiment, sponsored by the 3M Company under a joint endeavor agreement with NASA. The PM experiment was designed to observe the melting and resolidifying of different types of polymers while in orbit. Flying again was the Mesoscale Lightning Experiment to observe the visual characteristics of large-scale lightning in the upper atmosphere.

Troubleshooting by the crew was successful for a student experiment on ice crystal growth. The experiment's first activation did not produce crystals because the supercooled water formed an ice slag on the cooling plate. The crew turned the experiment off, allowing the ice to thaw, and then redispersed the liquid. Several crystals formed.

Lucid and Baker completed the Growth Hormone Concentration and Distribution in Plants experiment on Oct. 22 by freezing samples of corn seedlings grown on orbit during the mission.

In the cabin, the crew operated the IMAX (70-millimeter) camera, last flown on STS-29 in March.

Chang-Diaz and Baker, a medical doctor, performed a detailed supplementary objective by photographing and videotaping the veins and arteries in the retinal wall of Baker's eyeball to provide detailed measurements which might give clues about a possible relationship between cranial pressure and motion sickness. Baker also tested the effectiveness of anti-motion sickness medications in space.

On Oct. 21, Costa Rican President Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez talked in Spanish with Chang-Diaz, a Costa Rica native, and greeted the other crew members via a special telephone linkup. Chang-Diaz also explained the mission's objectives in Spanish to listeners on the ground.

Primary payload, Galileo/Jupiter spacecraft and attached Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), deployed six hours, 30 minutes into flight. IUS stages fired, placing Galileo on trajectory for six-year trip to Jupiter via gravitational boosts from Venus and Earth and possible observational brushes with asteroids 951 Gaspra and 243 Ida. Secondary payloads included Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV) experiment carried in cargo bay, and in crew cabin, Growth Hormone Crystal Distribution (GHCD); Polymer Morphology (PM), Sensor Technology Experiment (STEX); Mesoscale Lightning Experiment (MLE); IMAX camera; Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiment that investigated ice crystal formation in zero gravity; and ground-based Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) experiment.

Related articles

External links

Previous Mission:
Space Shuttle program Next Mission:

Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools