|Launch:||April 24, 1990|
8:33:51 a.m. EDT
|Landing:||April 29, 1990|
6:49:57 a.m. PDT
|Duration:||5 d 1 h 16 min 6 s|
|Orbit Altitude:||330 nautical miles (611 km)|
|Orbit Inclination:||28.45 degrees|
|Distance Traveled:||2,068,213 miles (3,328,466 km)|
- Commander: Loren J. Shriver (flew on STS-51-C, STS-31 & STS-46)
- Pilot: Charles F. Bolden, Jr., (flew on STS-61-C, STS-31, STS-45 & STS-60)
- Mission Specialist 1: Steven A. Hawley (flew on STS-41-D, STS-61-C, STS-31, STS-82 & STS-93)
- Mission Specialist 2: Bruce McCandless II (flew on STS-41-B & STS-31)
- Mission Specialist 3: Kathryn D. Sullivan (flew on STS-41-G, STS-31 & STS-45)
- Orbiter Liftoff: 117,586 kg
- Orbiter Landing: 85,947 kg
- Payload: 11,878 kg
- Perigee: 585 km
- Apogee: 615 km
- Inclination: 28.5°
- Period: 96.7 min
Launched April 24, 1990, 8:33:51 a.m. EDT. Launch scheduled for April 18, then April 12, then April 10, following Flight Readiness Review (FRR). First time date set at FRR was earlier than that shown on previous planning schedules. Launch April 10 scrubbed at T-4 minutes due to faulty valve in auxiliary power unit (APU) number one. APU replaced and payload batteries recharged. Countdown briefly halted at T-31 seconds when computer software failed to shut down a fuel valve line on ground support equipment. Engineers ordered valve to shut and countdown continued. Launch Weight: 249,109 lb (112,994 kg).
STS-31 was the tenth launch of the shuttle Discovery. On board were Loren Shriver, Charles Bolden, Bruce McCandless, Steven Hawley, and Kathryn Sullivan.
The primary payload was the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), deployed in a 380 statute mile (612 km) orbit. The shuttle's orbit in this mission was its second highest orbit up to that date, in order that the HST could be released near to its operational altitude well outside of the atmosphere. Discovery orbited the earth 80 times in this, its 10th mission.
The main purpose of this mission was to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) astronomical observatory. It was designed to operate above the earth's turbulent and obscuring atmosphere to observe celestial objects at ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared wavelengths. This was a joint NASA-ESA effort. The rest of the mission was devoted to photography and onboard experiments. To launch HST into an orbit that guaranteed longevity, Discovery soared to 600 km - the highest shuttle altitude to date. The record height permitted the crew to photograph earth's large scale geographic features not apparent from lower orbits. Motion pictures were recorded by two IMAX cameras. Experiment activity included a biomedical technology study, advanced materials research; particle contamination and ionizing radiation measurements; and student science project studying zero gravity effects on electronic arcs. Discovery's reentry from its higher than usual orbit call for a deorbit burn of 4 min 58 s, the longest in shuttle history.
Secondary payloads: IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC) to document operations outside crew cabin and hand-held IMAX camera for use inside crew cabin; Ascent Particle Monitor (APM) to detect particulate matter in payload bay; Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) to provide data on growing protein crystals in microgravity; Radiation Monitoring Equipment III (RME III) to measure gamma ray levels in crew cabin; Investigations into Polymer Membrane Processing (IPMP) to determine porosity control in microgravity environment; Shuttle Student involvement program (SSIP) experiment to study effects of near-weightlessness on electrical arcs, and Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) experiment.
April 29, 1990, 6:49:57 a.m. PDT, Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, CA. Rollout distance: 8,874 feet (2,705 m). Rollout time: 61 seconds. First use of carbon brakes at landing. Orbiter returned to KSC on May 7,1990. Landing Weight: 189,118 lb (85,782 kg).
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