STS-47 payloadbay.jpg
Spacelab Module LM2 in Endeavour's payload bay, serving as the Spacelab-J laboratory.
NamesSpace Transportation System-50
Mission typeMicrogravity research
COSPAR ID1992-061A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.22120
Mission duration7 days, 22 hours, 30 minutes, 24 seconds
Distance travelled5,265,523 km (3,271,844 mi)
Orbits completed126
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Endeavour
Launch mass117,335 kg (258,679 lb)
Landing mass99,450 kg (219,250 lb)
Payload mass12,485 kg (27,525 lb)
Crew size7
Start of mission
Launch dateSeptember 12, 1992, 14:23:00 UTC
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39B
ContractorRockwell International
End of mission
Landing dateSeptember 20, 1992, 12:53:24 UTC
Landing siteKennedy Space Center, SLF Runway 33
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude297 km (185 mi)
Apogee altitude310 km (190 mi)
Period90.00 minutes
  • Air Force Maui Optical Station (AMOS)
  • Israel Space Agency Investigation About Hornets (ISAIAH)
  • Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX-II)
  • Solid Surface Combustion Experiment (SSCE)
  • Ultraviolet Plume Imager (UVPI)

STS-47 mission patch
STS-47 crew.jpg

Back row: Davis, Lee, Gibson, Jemison, Mohri
Front row: Apt, Brown
← STS-46 (49)
STS-52 (51) →

STS-47 was the 50th NASA Space Shuttle mission of the program, as well as the second mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The mission mainly involved conducting experiments in life and material sciences inside Spacelab-J, a collaborative laboratory inside the shuttle's payload bay sponsored by NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). This mission carried Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese astronaut aboard the shuttle, Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go to space, and the only married couple to fly together on the shuttle, Mark C. Lee and Jan Davis, contrary to NASA policy.


Position Crew Member
Commander United States Robert L. Gibson
Member of Blue Team
Member of Red Team

Fourth spaceflight
Pilot United States Curtis Brown
Member of Red Team

First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 United States Mark C. Lee
Member of Red Team

Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 United States Jerome Apt
Member of Blue Team

Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 United States Jan Davis
Member of Blue Team

First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 4 United States Mae Jemison
Member of Blue Team

Only spaceflight
Payload Specialist 1 Japan Mamoru Mohri
Member of Red Team
First spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Astronaut
Payload Specialist 1 or 2 Japan Chiaki Mukai, NASDA
First spaceflight
Payload Specialist 1 or 2 Japan Takao Doi, NASDA
First spaceflight
Payload Specialist 1 United States Stanley L. Koszelak
First spaceflight

Crew seating arrangements

Seat[1] Launch Landing
Space Shuttle seating plan.svg

Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck. Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.
S1 Gibson Gibson
S2 Brown Brown
S3 Lee Davis
S4 Apt Apt
S5 Davis Lee
S6 Jemison Jemison
S7 Mohri Mohri

As female and male astronauts became more prominently integrated with the shuttle program, NASA enacted an unwritten rule that husband/wife couples would not be assigned to the same mission. However, when Lee and Davis's marriage became known to NASA officials in January 1991, the officials decided to keep the assignment as is, given that both crewmembers already had important roles within the upcoming mission.[2] When asked at a NASA press conference if intimate activities would be taking place on the mission, Davis denied that possibility.[3]

Mission highlights

Unimak Island as seen from Endeavour.
Unimak Island as seen from Endeavour.

At the beginning of September, a problem with an oxygen line in the shuttle's main propulsion system was identified, however, it was resolved without forcing a postponement of the mission.[4]

STS-47 launched from Pad 39B at 10:23:00 a.m. EDT on September 12, 1992, and was the first on-time mission without launch delays since STS-61-B in 1985.[5]

The mission's primary payload was Spacelab-J — a joint mission between NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) — which used a crewed Spacelab module to conduct microgravity research in materials and life sciences. Like many previous missions, the international crew was divided into red and blue teams which would work in two 12-hour shifts for around-the-clock operations. Brown, Lee, and Mohri, were assigned to the red team, and would conduct experiments while Apt, Davis, and Jemison, assigned to the blue team, would rest, and vice versa. As the mission commander, Gibson was free to work with both teams.[6] Spacelab-J included 24 experiments in materials science and 20 life sciences experiments, the majority of which were sponsored by NASDA and NASA, while 2 were sponsored by collaborative civilian efforts.[7] The Payload Crew Training Manager was Homer Hickam, who also worked during the mission as a Crew Interface Coordinator to talk to the crew during their science experiments and relay any concerns from the scientists on the ground.[8]

Materials science investigations covered such fields as biotechnology, electronic materials, fluid dynamics and transport phenomena, glass and ceramics, metals and alloys, and acceleration measurements. Life sciences included experiments on human health, cell separation and biology, developmental biology, animal and human physiology and behavior, space radiation, and biological rhythms. Test subjects included the crew, Japanese koi fish (carp), cultured animal and plant cells, chicken embryos, fruit flies, fungi, plant seeds, frogs and frog eggs, and oriental hornets.[7]

Secondary Experiments

STS-47 Endeavour crewmembers inside Spacelab
STS-47 Endeavour crewmembers inside Spacelab

On the middeck, a variety of experiments were conducted, including the Israel Space Agency Investigation About Hornets (ISAIAH), the Solid Surface Combustion Experiment (SSCE), and the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX II).[9]: 4  External experiments using the Ultraviolet Plume Imager (UVPI) on the LACE satellite and observations at the Air Force Maui Optical Station (AMOS) were also conducted while Endeavour was in orbit.[7]

ISAIAH was the first microgravity experiment flown for the Israel Space Agency (ISA). Originating from Tel-Aviv University, it was intended to observe the effects of microgravity on oriental hornets and their ability to build combs in zero-g.[9]: 28  However, a failure in the water system resulted in an unexpected rise of the humidity level in the experiment, which resulted in the deaths of 202 out of the 230 hornets and 103 pupae out of the 120 in the experiment. While some of the hornets in the bottom container of the experiment remained active through flight day 7, no new nests were created until after the mission's completion, and the average lifespan of the hornets that flew into space was considerably less than that of the control group. None of the hornet pupae that flew into space metamorphized.[10][11]

Twelve Get Away Special (GAS) canisters (10 with experiments, 2 with ballast) were carried in the payload bay. Among the GAS canisters was G-102, sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America's Exploring Division in cooperation with the TRW Systems Integration Group, Fairfax, Virginia. The project was named Project POSTAR and was the first space experiment created entirely by members of the Boy Scouts of America.[9][12]

Also on board were two experiments prepared by Ashford School of Art & Design in Kent, United Kingdom, which, at the time, was a girls-only school.[9] The school had won a competition run by Independent Television News. The experiments were contained in G-520. The first one injected a few grams of cobalt nitrate crystals to a sodium silicate to create a chemical garden in weightless condition. The growths, which were photographed 66 times as they developed, spread out in random directions, twisted, and, in some cases, formed spirals. A second experiment to investigate how Liesegang rings formed in space failed to operate correctly due to friction in parts of the mechanism. On its return, the experiment was exhibited in the London Science Museum.[13]

While in orbit, Jemison planned to speak from orbit on a live TV conference to Chicago grade-school students at an event hosted by NASA and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. The event was planned for September 16, 1992, at 7:00 p.m. central time.[14]

The mission, scheduled to end on September 19, 1992, was extended for one more day to complete certain experiments.[15]


See also


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

  1. ^ "STS-47". Spacefacts. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  2. ^ "Married astronauts can fly together, NASA says". United Press International. Johnson Space Center, Houston: UPI Archives. March 6, 1991. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  3. ^ "Shuttle couple ready for launch in September". Tampa Bay Times. Times Publishing Company. June 13, 1992. Retrieved January 27, 2022. At a news conference Wednesday in Huntsville, Davis answered "no" when asked if there would be sexual experiments on the seven-day mission.
  4. ^ "Shuttle launch set for September 12 but problem exists". Defense Daily. Vol. 172, no. 44. Access Intelligence, LLC. September 2, 1992. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  5. ^ Dumoulin, Jim (June 29, 2001). "STS-47". Kennedy Space Center Science, Technology and Engineering. NASA/KSC Information Technology Directorate. Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  6. ^ Evans, Ben (October 28, 2012). "Of Marriage, Medaka Fish and Multiculturalism: The Legacy of STS-47". America Space. Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c Ryba, Jeanne. "STS-47". NASA. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  8. ^ "'October Sky' high". Florida Today. March 29, 1999. Retrieved February 8, 2022 – via Most of my work was with Spacelab flight, especially Spacelab J icon of an open green padlock
  9. ^ a b c d "Space Shuttle mission STS-47 – Press Kit". NASA. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  10. ^ Fricke, Robert W. (October 1, 1992). STS-47 Space Shuttle Mission Report (PDF) (Report). Houston, Texas: Lockheed Engineering and Sciences Company - National Aeronautics and Space Administration. p. 22. 19930016771. Retrieved May 19, 2022.
  11. ^ "IAMI - Projects". IAMI. Israel Aerospace Medicine Institute. Archived from the original on December 3, 2018. Retrieved May 19, 2022.
  12. ^ Evans, Ben (2014). Partnership in Space: The Mid to Late Nineties. New York: Springer Praxis Books. p. 285. ISBN 9781461432784. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  13. ^ "Late bloom for crystal garden". The New Scientist. January 2, 1993. Archived from the original on March 9, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  14. ^ Carr, Jeffrey (September 14, 1992). "Astronaut Mae Jemison to Speak with Chicago Youth" (PDF) (Press release). Houston: NASA. p. 120. Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  15. ^ "1981-1999 Space Shuttle Mission Chronology" (PDF). NASA. p. 26. Retrieved January 29, 2022.