Discovery deploys Morelos-1.
NamesSpace Transportation System-18
Mission typeSatellites deployment
COSPAR ID1985-048A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.15823
Mission duration7 days, 1 hour, 38 minutes, 52 seconds (achieved)
Distance travelled4,693,051 km (2,916,127 mi)
Orbits completed112
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Discovery
Launch mass116,357 kg (256,523 lb)
Landing mass92,610 kg (204,170 lb)
Payload mass17,280 kg (38,100 lb)
Crew size7
Start of mission
Launch dateJune 17, 1985, 11:33:00 UTC
RocketSpace Shuttle Discovery
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39A
ContractorRockwell International
End of mission
Landing dateJune 24, 1985, 13:11:52 UTC
Landing siteEdwards Air Force Base,
Runway 23
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[1]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude353 km (219 mi)
Apogee altitude359 km (223 mi)
Period91.70 minutes
  • Automated Directional Solidification Furnace (ADSF)
  • French Echocardiograph Experiment (FEE)
  • French Postural Experiment (FPE)
  • High Precision Tracking Experiment (HPTE)
  • Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for AstroNomy (SPARTAN-1)

STS-51-G mission patch

Back: Shannon W. Lucid, Steven R. Nagel, John M. Fabian, Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, Patrick Baudry,
Front: Daniel C. Brandenstein, John O. Creighton
← STS-51-B (17)
STS-51-F (19) →

STS-51-G was the 18th flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program, and the fifth flight of Space Shuttle Discovery. The seven-day mission launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 17, 1985, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on June 24, 1985. Sultan bin Salman Al Saud from Saudi Arabia was on board as a payload specialist; Al Saud became the first Arab, the first Muslim, and the first member of a royal family to fly into space.[2] It was also the first Space Shuttle mission which flew without at least one astronaut from the pre-Shuttle era among its crew.


Position Astronaut
Commander United States Daniel C. Brandenstein
Second spaceflight
Pilot United States John O. Creighton
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 United States John M. Fabian
Second and last spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 United States Steven R. Nagel
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 United States Shannon W. Lucid
First spaceflight
Payload Specialist 1 France Patrick Baudry, CNES
Only spaceflight
Payload Specialist 2 Saudi Arabia Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, RSAF
Only spaceflight
Al Saud became the first member of royalty to fly into space,
as well as the first Arab and the first Muslim.

Backup crew

Position Astronaut
Payload Specialist 1 France Jean-Loup Chrétien, CNES
Second spaceflight
Payload Specialist 2 Saudi Arabia Abdulmohsen Al-Bassam, RSAF
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 Brandenstein Brandenstein
S2 Creighton Creighton
S3 Lucid Fabian
S4 Nagel Nagel
S5 Fabian Lucid
S6 Baudry Baudry
S7 Al Saud Al Saud

Mission summary

Discovery lifted off from Launch Complex 39A, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at 7:33 a.m. EDT on June 17, 1985. The mission's crew members included Daniel C. Brandenstein, commander; John O. Creighton, pilot; Shannon W. Lucid, Steven R. Nagel, and John M. Fabian, mission specialists; and Patrick Baudry, from France, and Prince Sultan Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, from Saudi Arabia, both payload specialists.

STS-51-G carried three communications satellites as its primary cargo. These were Arabsat-1B (Arab Satellite Communications Organization); Morelos-1 (Mexico); and Telstar-303 (AT&T Corporation); all three were Hughes-built satellites. All three successfully utilized Payload Assist Module (PAM-D) booster stages to achieve geostationary transfer orbits (GTO) after being deployed from Discovery.

Also carried was the SPARTAN-1 (Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for AstroNomy) a deployable/retrievable carrier module, designed to be deployed from the orbiter and fly free in space before being retrieved. SPARTAN-1 included 140 kg (310 lb) of astronomy experiments. It was deployed and operated successfully, independent of the orbiter, before being retrieved. Discovery furthermore carried an experimental materials-processing furnace, two French biomedical experiments (French Echocardiograph Experiment (FEE) and French Postural Experiment (FPE)),[3] and six Getaway Special (GAS) experiments, which were all successfully performed, although the GO34 Getaway Special shut down prematurely. This mission was also the first flight test of the OEX advanced autopilot which gave the orbiter capabilities above and beyond those of the baseline system.

The mission's final payload element was a High Precision Tracking Experiment (HPTE) for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) (nicknamed "Star Wars"); the HPTE failed to deploy properly during its first try on the mission's 37th orbit, because the orbiter was not at the correct attitude. It was successfully deployed on orbit 64.

Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base at 9:11:52 a.m. EDT on June 24, 1985, after a mission duration of 7 days, 1 hour, 38 minutes, and 52 seconds.

Mission Insignia

The STS-51-G insignia illustrates the advances in aviation technology in the United States within a relatively short span of the twentieth century with Discovery flying over the Wright Flyer. A gold-and-orange-flame eagle forms the base of the insigna. The surnames of the crewmembers for the Discovery's mission appear near the center edge of the circular design, with the French and Saudi crewmembers added below, with a respective flag icon along their name. Although Baudry was the first French citizen to fly with a Space Shuttle mission into space, he was only the second Frenchman to go to space, following Jean-Loup Chrétien's earlier missions with Soyuz capsule, Soyuz T-6.

Wake-up calls

NASA began a tradition of playing music to astronauts during 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.[4]

Flight Day Song Artist/Composer
Day 2 Eye in the Sky (song) The Alan Parsons Project
Day 3 "Proud Mary" Creedence Clearwater Revival
Day 4 "Sailing" Christopher Cross
Day 5 "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" Neil Diamond
Day 6 "Wedding March" Felix Mendelssohn


See also


  1. ^ "Trajectory: STS-51G (1985-048A)". NASA. January 7, 2022. Retrieved January 23, 2022. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "A prince in space" (January/February 1986 ed.). pp. 20–29. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "STS-51G". Spacefacts. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  4. ^ Fries, Colin (June 25, 2007). "Chronology of Wakeup Calls" (PDF). NASA. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 20, 2023. Retrieved August 13, 2007. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.