Columbia begins its final test flight
from Launch Complex 39A of KSC
Mission typeTest flight
COSPAR ID1982-065A
SATCAT no.13300
Mission duration7 days, 1 hour,
9 minutes, 31 seconds
Distance travelled4,700,000 km (2,900,000 mi)
Orbits completed113
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Columbia
Launch mass109,616 kg (241,662 lb)
Landing mass  94,774 kg (208,941 lb)
Payload mass  11,109 kg (24,491 lb)
Crew size2
Start of mission
Launch date27 June 1982, 15:00:00 (1982-06-27UTC15Z) UTC
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Landing date4 July 1982, 16:09:31 (1982-07-04UTC16:09:32Z) UTC
Landing siteEdwards Runway 22
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude295 km (183 mi)
Apogee altitude302 km (188 mi)
Inclination28.5 degrees
Period90.3 minutes

Hartsfield (left) and Mattingly
← STS-3
STS-5 →

STS-4 was the fourth NASA Space Shuttle mission, and also the fourth for Space Shuttle Columbia. Carrying a crew of two, the mission launched on Sunday, 27 June, 1982,[1] and landed a week later on 4 July.[2] Due to parachute malfunctions, the SRBs were not recovered.

STS-4 was the final test flight for the shuttle; it was thereafter officially declared to be operational. Columbia carried numerous scientific payloads during the mission, as well as military missile detection systems.[3]


Position Astronaut
Commander Thomas K. Mattingly II
Second spaceflight
Pilot Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr.
First spaceflight

STS-4, being the last test flight of the Space Shuttle, was also the last to carry a crew of two astronauts. Commander Ken Mattingly had previously flown as Command Module Pilot on Apollo 16, and was also the original Command Module Pilot for Apollo 13 before being famously replaced by his backup, Jack Swigert. Hartsfield was a rookie who had transferred to NASA in 1969 after the cancellation of the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. He had previously served as a capsule communicator on Apollo 16, all three Skylab missions, and STS-1.

Backup crew

From STS-4 onwards, NASA halted the appointment and training of complete backup flight crews. Instead, individual flight crew members were assigned backups who could take their place within the prime crew. The decision on whether to appoint a reserve crew member was made on a per-flight basis by flight management teams at Johnson Space Center. Consequently, the last NASA flight to have a full-time backup crew was STS-3.

Support crew

Mission summary

STS-4 launched from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on 27 June 1982 at 11:00 am EDT, with Ken Mattingly as commander and Henry Hartsfield as pilot.[1] This mission marked the first time the Space Shuttle launched precisely at its scheduled launch time. It was also the last research and development flight in the program, after which NASA considered the shuttle operational. After this flight, Columbia's ejection seats were deactivated, and shuttle crews did not wear pressure suits again until STS-26 in 1988.

STS-4's cargo consisted of the first Getaway Special payloads, including nine scientific experiments provided by students from Utah State University,[4][5] and a classified U.S. Air Force payload of two missile launch-detection systems. A secret mission control center in Sunnyvale, California participated in monitoring the flight. Mattingly, who was an active-duty naval officer, later described the classified payload – two sensors for detecting missile launches – as a "rinky-dink collection of minor stuff they wanted to fly." The payload failed to operate.[6]

In the shuttle's mid-deck, a Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System and the Mono-disperse Latex Reactor flew for the second time. The crew conducted a lightning survey with hand-held cameras, and performed medical experiments on themselves for two student projects. They also operated the Remote Manipulator System with an instrument called the Induced Environment Contamination Monitor mounted on its end, designed to obtain information on gases or particles being released by the orbiter in flight.[3]

Columbia landed on 4 July 1982 at 9:09 am PDT, on the 15,000-foot (2.8 mi; 4.6 km) concrete runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base, the first orbital Shuttle landing on a concrete runway. This time the lead escorting T-38 "Chase 1" was piloted by Guy Gardner with crewmate Jerry Ross. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy greeted the crew upon arrival. Following the landing, President Reagan gave a speech to the crowd gathered at Edwards, during which he declared the Space Shuttle operational.[2] He was followed by remarks from Mattingly and Hartsfield and a flyover of the new shuttle Challenger atop the SCA, headed for KSC.

The flight lasted 7 days, 1 hour, 9 minutes and 31 seconds (169.1586 hours), and covered a total distance of 4,700,000 km (2,900,000 mi) in 112 complete orbits. The mission achieved all objectives except for the Air Force payload, but the SRBs were lost when their main parachutes failed, causing the empty casings to impact the ocean at high velocity and sink.[1] This and STS-51-L were the only missions where the SRBs were not recovered. Columbia returned to KSC on 15 July.

Mission insignia

The path of the red, white, and blue streak on the mission patch forms the numeral "4", indicating the flight's numerical designation in the Space Transportation System's mission sequence.

Wake-up calls

NASA began a tradition of playing music to astronauts during the Gemini program, and first used music to wake up a flight crew during Apollo 15.[7] 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.[7]

Flight Day Song Artist/Composer
Day 2 "Up, Up and Away" The 5th Dimension
Day 3 "Hold That Tiger" Auburn University Band
Day 4 Taped message for Hank Hartsfield on his wedding anniversary
Day 5 "Theme from Chariots of Fire" Vangelis
Day 6 Delta Tau Delta fraternity song (Mattingly), Delta Chi fraternity song (Hartsfield)
Day 7 "This Is My Country" Don Raye

See also


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ a b c "Shuttle off on military operations". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. 28 June 1982. p. 1.
  2. ^ a b "Shuttle test: 'Outstanding' was the word". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. 5 July 1982. p. 1.
  3. ^ a b "STS-004 Press Kit" (PDF). Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Students hope for a space fix-it". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). 29 June 1982. p. A1.
  5. ^ "USU team, astronauts, cheer fix-it job". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). 30 June 1982. p. A1.
  6. ^ Cassutt, Michael (August 2009). "Secret Space Shuttles". Air & Space. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  7. ^ a b Fries, Colin (25 June 2007). "Chronology of Wakeup Calls" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 13 August 2007.