STS-51-F (Spacelab 2) was the eighth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger, and the nineteenth shuttle flight.
The payload with most publicity was the Carbonated Beverage Dispenser Evaluation, which was an experiment where both Coca-Cola and Pepsi tried to make their drinks available to astronauts. Both fizzed excessively in microgravity.
Number in parentheses indicates number of spaceflights by each individual prior to and including this mission.
Primary payload was Spacelab-2. Despite an abort to orbit, which required mission replanning, the mission was declared a success. A special part of the modular Spacelab system, the igloo, located at head of a three-pallet train, provided on-site support to instruments mounted on pallets. The main mission objective was to verify performance of Spacelab systems, determine the interface capability of the orbiter, and measure the environment created by the spacecraft. Experiments covered life sciences, plasma physics, astronomy, high-energy astrophysics, solar physics, atmospheric physics and technology research.
The flight marked the first time the ESA Instrument Pointing System (IPS) was tested in orbit. This unique pointing instrument was designed with an accuracy of one arcsecond. Initially, some problems were experienced when it was commanded to track the Sun, but a series of software fixes were made and the problem was corrected.
In addition, Tony England became the second amateur radio operator to transmit from space during the mission.
Launch took place at July 29
, 5:00:00 p.m. EDT. The countdown on July 12
had been halted at T-3 seconds after main engine ignition when a malfunction of number two Space Shuttle Main Engine
(SSME) coolant valve caused shutdown of all three main engines. The launch was delayed one hour, 37 minutes due to a problem with the table maintenance block update uplink. Five minutes and 45 seconds into ascent, number one main engine shut down prematurely due to a faulty high temperature sensor. To date, this has been the only in-flight main engine failure of the shuttle program. At about the same time, a second main engine almost shut down because of a similar problem, but this was observed and inhibited by a fast acting flight controller
. The failed SSME resulted in an
Abort To Orbit (ATO)
trajectory, whereby the shuttle achieves a lower than planned orbital altitude. The weight of the orbiter at launch was 252,855 lb (114.693 t).
On August 6
, at 12:45:26 p.m. PDT, Challenger
landed at Edwards Air Force Base
. Rollout distance was 8,569 ft (2.612 km). The mission was extended 17 orbits for additional payload activities due to the abort-to-orbit. Weight at landing time was 216,735 lb (98.309 t). The orbiter arrived back at Kennedy Space Center on August 11
The mission insignia was designed by Houston
artist Skip Bradley. The Space Shuttle Challenger
is depicted ascending toward the heavens in search of new knowledge in the
field of solar and stellar astronomy, with its Spacelab 2 payload. The constellations Leo
are in the positions they will be in,
relative to the Sun during the flight. The nineteen stars signify that this will be the 19th STS flight.