Hieb, Akers, and Thuot assist in capturing the Intelsat 603 satellite from its derelict orbit
Mission typeSatellite repair
COSPAR ID1992-026A
SATCAT no.21963
Mission duration8 days, 21 hours, 17 minutes, 38 seconds
Distance travelled5,948,166 kilometers (3,696,019 mi)
Orbits completed141
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Endeavour
Landing mass91,214 kilograms (201,092 lb)
Payload mass14,618 kilograms (32,227 lb)[citation needed]
Crew size7
Start of mission
Launch date7 May 1992, 23:40:00 (1992-05-07UTC23:40Z) UTC
Launch siteKennedy LC-39B
End of mission
Landing date16 May 1992, 22:57:38 (1992-05-16UTC22:57:39Z) UTC
Landing siteEdwards Runway 22
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude268 kilometres (167 mi)
Apogee altitude341 kilometres (212 mi)
Inclination28.35 degrees
Period90.6 min

Left to right: Thornton, Melnick, Thuot, Brandenstein, Chilton, Akers, Hieb
← STS-45
STS-50 →

STS-49 was the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which launched on 7 May 1992. The primary goal of its nine-day mission was to retrieve an Intelsat VI satellite (Intelsat 603, which failed to leave low earth orbit two years before), attach it to a new upper stage, and relaunch it to its intended geosynchronous orbit. After several attempts, the capture was completed with the only three-person extra-vehicular activity (EVA) in space flight history.[1] It would also stand until STS-102 in 2001 as the longest EVA ever undertaken.


Position Astronaut
Commander Daniel C. Brandenstein
Fourth and last spaceflight
Pilot Kevin P. Chilton
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 Richard J. Hieb
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 Bruce E. Melnick
Second and last spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 Pierre J. Thuot
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 4 Kathryn C. Thornton
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 5 Thomas D. Akers
Second spaceflight


Crew seating arrangements

Seat[2] Launch Landing

Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck. Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.
S1 Brandenstein Brandenstein
S2 Chilton Chilton
S3 Hieb Thuot
S4 Melnick Melnick
S5 Thuot Hieb
S6 Thornton Thornton
S7 Akers Akers

Mission highlights

The Intelsat 603 satellite, stranded in an unusable orbit since launch aboard a Commercial Titan III rocket in March 1990, was captured by crewmembers during an EVA (extra-vehicular activity) and equipped with a new perigee kick motor. The satellite was subsequently released into orbit and the new motor fired to put the spacecraft into a geosynchronous orbit for operational use.

The capture required three EVAs: a planned one by astronauts Thuot and Hieb who were unable to attach a capture bar to the satellite from a position on the RMS; a second unscheduled but identical attempt the following day; and finally an unscheduled but successful hand capture by Thuot, Hieb and Akers as commander Brandenstein delicately maneuvered the orbiter to within a few feet of the 4215 kg communications satellite. An Assembly of Station by EVA Methods (ASEM) structure was erected in the cargo bay by the crew to serve as a platform to aid in the hand capture and subsequent attachment of the capture bar.

A planned EVA also was performed by astronauts Thornton and Akers as part of the ASEM experiment to demonstrate and verify maintenance and assembly capabilities for Space Station Freedom. The ASEM space walk, originally scheduled for two successive days, was cut to one day because of the lengthy Intelsat retrieval operation.

Other "payloads of opportunity" experiments conducted included: Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG), Ultraviolet Plume Imager (UVPI) and the Air Force Maui Optical Station (AMOS) investigation. The mission was extended by two days in order to complete all the mission objectives.

On flight day 7, the Ku-band antenna lost its pointing capability. It had to be stowed manually during the final EVA.[3]

The following records were set during the STS-49 mission:[4]

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. A special musical track is chosen for each day in space, often by the astronauts' families, to have a special meaning to an individual member of the crew, or in reference to the day's planned activities.

Day Song Artist/Composer Played For
Day 2 "God Bless the U.S.A." Lee Greenwood
Day 3 "Rescue Me" Fontella Bass
Day 4 "Theme from Winnie the Pooh" Kathy Thornton (from her Children on Mother's Day)
Day 5 "Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)" Bill Conti
Day 6 "Kokomo" The Beach Boys
Day 7 No song
Day 8 "I wake up with a smile on my face" Boxcar Willie
Day 9 "Son of a Son of a Sailor" Jimmy Buffett


See also


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

  1. ^ Facts about spacesuits and spacewalks ( Archived 3 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "STS-49". Spacefacts. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  3. ^ Robert W. Fricke (July 1992). STS-49: Space shuttle mission report (Report). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. p. 17. NASA-TM-108104. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  4. ^ NASA (2001). "STS-49". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved 7 December 2007.