STS41B-35-1613 - Bruce McCandless II during EVA (Retouched).jpg
Bruce McCandless II demonstrates the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), floating in space above a clouded Earth.
NamesSpace Transportation System-10
Mission typeCommunications satellites deployment
Equipment testing
COSPAR ID1984-011A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.14681
Mission duration7 days, 23 hours, 15 minutes, 55 seconds (achieved)
Distance travelled5,329,150 km (3,311,380 mi)
Orbits completed128
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Challenger
Launch mass113,603 kg (250,452 lb)
Landing mass91,280 kg (201,240 lb)
Payload mass12,815 kg (28,252 lb)[1]
Crew size5
EVA duration12 hours, 12 minutes
First: 5 hours, 55 minutes
Second: 6 hours, 17 minutes
Start of mission
Launch date3 February 1984, 13:00:00 UTC
RocketSpace Shuttle Challenger
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39A
ContractorRockwell International
End of mission
Landing date11 February 1984, 12:15:55 UTC
Landing siteKennedy Space Center, Runway 15
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[2]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude307 km (191 mi)
Apogee altitude317 km (197 mi)
Period90.80 minutes
Get Away Special (GAS) canisters

STS-41-B mission patch
STS-41-B crew.jpg

Standing: Mission Specialists Robert L. Stewart, Ronald McNair and Bruce McCandless II. Stewart and McCandless are wearing Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs).
Seated: Vance D. Brand and Robert L. Gibson
← STS-9
STS-41-C (11) →

STS-41-B was the tenth NASA Space Shuttle mission and the fourth flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger. It launched on 3 February 1984, and landed on 11 February 1984 after deploying two communications satellites. It was also notable for including the first untethered spacewalk.

Following STS-9, the flight numbering system for the Space Shuttle program was changed. Thus, the next flight, instead of being designated STS-10, became STS-41-B; the original successor to STS-9, STS-10, was canceled due to payload delays.


Position Astronaut
Commander Vance D. Brand
Third spaceflight
Pilot Robert L. Gibson
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 Bruce McCandless II
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 Robert L. Stewart
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 Ronald E. McNair
Only spaceflight



Crew seating arrangements

Seat[4] Launch Landing
Space Shuttle seating plan.svg

Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck.

Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.

S1 Brand Brand
S2 Gibson Gibson
S3 McNair McCandless
S4 Stewart Stewart
S5 McCandless McNair

Mission summary

STS-41B launch
STS-41B launch
Palapa B2 after deployment
Palapa B2 after deployment
Astronaut Bruce McCandless exercises the Manned Maneuvering Unit.
Astronaut Bruce McCandless exercises the Manned Maneuvering Unit.
McCandless approaches his maximum distance from Challenger.
McCandless approaches his maximum distance from Challenger.

Challenger lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 08:00:00 a.m. EST on 3 February 1984. It was estimated that 100,000 people attended the launch.[5] Two communications satellites were deployed about 8 hours after launch; one, Westar 6, was for America's Western Union, and the other, Palapa B2, for Indonesia;[6] both were Hughes-built HS-376-series satellites. However, the Payload Assist Modules (PAM) for both satellites malfunctioned, placing them into a lower-than-planned orbit. Both satellites were retrieved successfully in November 1984 during STS-51-A, which was conducted by the orbiter Discovery.[6]

The STS-41-B crew included commander Vance D. Brand, making his second Shuttle flight; pilot Robert L. Gibson; and mission specialists Bruce McCandless II, Ronald E. McNair, and Robert L. Stewart.

On the fourth day of the mission, astronauts McCandless and Stewart performed the first untethered spacewalk, operating the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) for the first time.[3][7] McCandless ventured out 98 m (322 ft) from the orbiter, while Stewart tested the "work station" foot restraint at the end of the Remote Manipulator System (Canadarm). On the seventh day of the mission, both astronauts performed another extravehicular activity (EVA) to practice capture procedures for the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM) satellite retrieval and repair operation, which was planned for the next mission, STS-41-C.[3]

STS-41-B also achieved the reflight of the West German-sponsored SPAS-1 pallet/satellite, which had originally flown on STS-7.[8] This time, however, it remained in the payload bay due to an electrical problem in the RMS (Canadarm). The mission also carried five Get Away Special (GAS) canisters, six live rats in the middeck area, a Cinema-360 camera and a continuation of the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System and Monodisperse Latex Reactor experiments.[8] Included in one of the GAS canisters was the first experiment designed and built by a high school team to fly in space. The experiment, on seed germination and growth in zero gravity, was created and built by a team of four students from Brighton High School in Utah through a partnership with Utah State University.[8]

Brighton High School STS-11 Decal
Brighton High School STS-11 Decal

The 7 days, 23 hours, 15 minutes, and 55 seconds flight ended on 11 February 1984 with a successful landing at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. This marked the first landing of a spacecraft at its launch site. Challenger completed 128 orbits and traveled 5,329,150 km (3,311,380 mi).

Mission insignia

Designed by artist Robert McCall, the eleven stars in the blue field symbolize the mission's original designation as STS-11. The left panel shows the deployment of a satellite, and the right panel shows an astronaut using the MMU.

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.[9]

Flight Day Song Artist/Composer Played for
Day 2 Garbled during broadcast, title unknown Contraband Ronald E. McNair
Day 3 "A Train" Contraband
Day 4 "Glory, Glory, Colorado" The University of Colorado Band Vance D. Brand
Day 5 "Armed Forces Medley"
Day 6 "North Carolina A&T University alma mater"
"Southern Mississippi to the Top"
Ronald E. McNair
Robert L. Stewart
Day 7 "Theme from The Greatest American Hero" Joey Scarbury
Day 8 "The Air Force Song" U.S. Air Force CAPCOMs
Day 9 "In the Mood" Contraband

After the mission

Astronaut Bruce McCandless II sued singer Dido in 2010 over the use of a public domain photo of him in space on this mission on her 2008 album Safe Trip Home.[10]

Two years after this mission, Ronald E. McNair was a crew member of the ill-fated STS-51-L. He and his six colleagues were killed when Challenger disintegrated 14 km (8.7 mi) above the Atlantic Ocean 73 seconds after liftoff.[11]

See also


  1. ^ "NASA shuttle cargo summary" (PDF). NASA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 August 2000. Retrieved 15 August 2015. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "SATCAT". Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d "Feb. 7, 1984: NASA Astronauts Perform First Untethered Spacewalk". The New York Times. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  4. ^ "STS-41B". Spacefacts. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  5. ^ Stanley, Rick (4 February 1984). "Backed Up Cars; Broken Down Bus; a Beautiful Launch". Florida Today. Cocoa, Florida. p. 3A – via
  6. ^ a b ""It'll Be A Miracle": The Rescue of Palapa and Westar (Part 1)". AmericaSpace. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  7. ^ ""More Favored than the Birds": The Manned Maneuvering Unit in Space". NASA. 1998. Retrieved 20 July 2013. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ a b c "STS-41-B". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 15 April 2002. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  9. ^ Fries, Colin (25 June 2007). "Chronology of Wakeup Calls" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 13 August 2007. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. ^ Michael Zhang (8 October 2010). "NASA Astronaut Sues Dido Over Album Cover Photograph".
  11. ^ "Astronaut Bio: Ronald McNair 12/03". Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2020. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.