TDRS-D being deployed on Flight Day 1 of the mission.
NamesSpace Transportation System-29
Mission typeTDRS-D deployment
COSPAR ID1989-021A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.19882
Mission duration4 days, 23 hours, 38 minutes, 50 seconds (achieved)
Distance travelled3,200,000 km (2,000,000 mi)
Orbits completed80
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Discovery
Launch mass116,281 kg (256,356 lb)
Landing mass88,353 kg (194,785 lb)
Payload mass17,280 kg (38,100 lb)
Crew size5
Start of mission
Launch dateMarch 13, 1989, 14:57:00 UTC
RocketSpace Shuttle Discovery
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39B
ContractorRockwell International
End of mission
Landing dateMarch 18, 1989, 14:35:50 UTC
Landing siteEdwards Air Force Base,
Runway 22
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude297 km (185 mi)
Apogee altitude308 km (191 mi)
Period90.60 minutes

STS-29 mission patch

Back row: James P. Bagian, Robert C. Springer, James Buchli
Front row: John E. Blaha and Michael Coats
← STS-27
STS-30 (29) →

STS-29 was the 28th NASA Space Shuttle mission, during which Space Shuttle Discovery inserted a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) into Earth orbit.[1] It was the third shuttle mission following the Challenger disaster in 1986, and launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on March 13, 1989.[2] STS-29R was the eighth flight of Discovery and the 28th Space Shuttle mission overall; its planned predecessor, STS-28, was delayed until August 1989.

The mission was technically designated STS-29R as the original STS-29 designator belonged to STS-61-A, the 22nd Space Shuttle mission. Official documentation and paperwork for that mission contained the designator STS-29 when it was allocated to Space Shuttle Columbia and later as STS-30 when allocated to Challenger. As STS-51-L was designated STS-33, future flights with the STS-26 through STS-33 designators would require the R in their documentation to avoid conflicts in tracking data from one mission to another.


Position Astronaut
Commander Michael Coats
Second spaceflight
Pilot John E. Blaha
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 Robert C. Springer
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 James Buchli
Third spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 James P. Bagian
First spaceflight

Crew seating arrangements

Seat[3] Launch Landing
Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck. Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.
S1 Coats Coats
S2 Blaha Blaha
S3 Springer Bagian
S4 Buchli Buchli
S5 Bagian Springer

Mission summary

Discovery lifted off from Launch Complex 39B, Kennedy Space Center, at 9:57:00 a.m. EST on March 13, 1989.[4] The launch was originally scheduled for February 18, 1989, but was postponed to allow for the replacement of faulty liquid oxygen turbopumps on the three main engines. The amended target date of March 11, 1989, was postponed by 1 day, because of the failure of a master event controller (MEC); #2 when it was powered up during prelaunch checkout,[5] as well as an additional day to replace a faulty fuel preburner oxidizer valve (FPOV).[5] On the rescheduled launch day of March 13, 1989, the launch was delayed for nearly two hours because of ground fog and high upper winds.[5] A waiver was approved for the orbiter's wing loads.

The primary payload was TDRS-D, the third and final component of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) constellation in geosynchronous orbit.[1] The three on-orbit satellites were stationed over the equator at about 35,900 km (22,300 mi) above Earth; two of them were positioned 130° apart, while the third was located between them as an on-orbit spare.

On Flight Day 1, one of three cryogenic hydrogen tanks which supplied shuttle's electricity-generating fuel cells exhibited erratic pressure fluctuations. It was deactivated while engineers studied the problem, and the crew was told to conserve electrical power. The tank was reactivated on Flight Day 3, March 15, 1989, and operated successfully thereafter.[6]

Discovery landed on March 18, 1989, after orbit 80, one orbit earlier than planned, in order to avoid possible excessive wind buildup expected at the landing site. The shuttle touched down on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, at 9:35|51 a.m. EST. The total mission duration was 4 days, 23 hours, 38 minutes, and 52 seconds.[5]

Payload and experiments

TDRS-4 after deployment

The mission's primary payload was TDRS-D,[5] which became TDRS-4 after deployment, and its attached Inertial Upper Stage (IUS). The satellite was deployed from the shuttle's payload bay less than six hours after launch, at 3:12 a.m. EST. The first-stage orbit burn of the IUS took place an hour later, and the second burn to circularize the orbit occurred 12 hours and 30 minutes into the mission. The satellite was stationed at 41.0° West longitude.

Discovery also carried eight secondary payloads, including two Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiments. One student experiment, using four live rats with tiny pieces of bone removed from their bodies, was to test whether the environmental effects of space flight inhibit bone healing. The other student experiment was to fly 32 chicken eggs to determine the effects of space flight on fertilized chicken embryos.[7]

One experiment, mounted in the payload bay, was only termed "partially successful". The Space Station Heat Pipe Advanced Radiator Element (SHARE), a potential cooling system for the planned Space Station Freedom, operated continuously for less than 30 minutes under powered electrical loads. The failure was blamed on the faulty design of the equipment, especially the manifold section.[8]

All other experiments operated successfully. Crystals were obtained from all the proteins in the Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) experiment. The Chromosomes and Plant Cell Division in Space (CHROMEX), a life sciences experiment, was designed to show the effects of microgravity on root development. An IMAX (70 mm) camera was used to film a variety of scenes for the 1990 IMAX film Blue Planet,[9] including the effects of floods, hurricanes, wildfires and volcanic eruptions on Earth. A ground-based U.S. Air Force experiment used the orbiter as a calibration target for the Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) in Hawaii.[10]

Wake-up calls

NASA began a tradition of playing music to astronauts during the Project Gemini, and first used music to wake up a flight crew during Apollo 15. Each track is specially chosen, often by the astronauts' families, and usually has a special meaning to an individual member of the crew, or is applicable to their daily activities.[11]

Flight Day Song Artist/Composer
Day 2 "I Got You (I Feel Good)" James Brown
Day 3 "Marine Corps Hymn"
Day 4 "Theme from Star Trek: TOS" Alexander Courage
Day 5 "Heigh-Ho" Song from the Walt Disney animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Day 6 "What a Wonderful World" Louis Armstrong


See also


  1. ^ a b "STS-29 Press Kit" (PDF). NASA. March 1989. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 6, 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ Dye, Lee (March 14, 1989). "Space Shuttle Launched, Puts Satellite in Orbit". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021.
  3. ^ Becker, Joachim. "Spaceflight mission report: STS-29". SPACEFACTS. Archived from the original on February 17, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  4. ^ Chen, Adam (2012). Celebrating 30 Years of the Space Shuttle (PDF). Washington, D.C.: NASA. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-16-090202-4. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ a b c d e Legler, Robert D.; Floyd V., Bennett (September 2011). "Space Shuttle Missions Summary" (PDF). Scientific and Technical Information (STI) Program Office. NASA. pp. 2-30–2-31. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 12, 2020. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ Office of Safety, Reliability, Maintainability and Quality Assurance (May 8, 1989). "Misson Safety Evaluation Report for STS-29 - Postflight Edition" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: NASA. p. A-9. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 6, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  7. ^ Brown, Robert W. (1990). "NASA's Educational Programs" (PDF). Government Information Quarterly. 7 (2): 185–195. doi:10.1016/0740-624X(90)90054-R. hdl:2060/19900019131. ISSN 0740-624X. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 6, 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ Kosson, Robert; Brown, Richard; Ungar, Eugene (January 11, 1990), "Space Station heat pipe advanced radiator element (SHARE) flight test results and analysis", 28th Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, doi:10.2514/6.1990-59, retrieved January 6, 2021
  9. ^ Venant, Elizabeth (March 18, 1989). "Astronauts Play Film Makers for IMAX 'Blue Planet'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021.
  10. ^ Viereck, R. A.; Murad, E.; Pike, C. P.; Kofsky, I. L.; Trowbridge, C. A.; Rall, D. L. A.; Satayesh, A.; Berk, A.; Elgin, J. B. (1990). Photometric analysis of a space shuttle water venting (PDF). Fourth Annual Workshop on Space Operations Applications and Research (SOAR 90). Houston, Texas: NASA. pp. 676–680. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. ^ Fries, Colin (March 13, 2015). "Chronology of Wakeup Calls" (PDF). History Division. NASA. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 5, 2021. Retrieved January 5, 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.