Spacelab Module LM1 in Columbia's payload bay, serving as the Spacelab D-2 laboratory.
NamesSpace Transportation System-55
Spacelab Deutschland 2
Spacelab D-2
Mission typeSpacelab research
COSPAR ID1993-027A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.22640
Mission duration9 days, 23 hours, 39 minutes, 59 seconds
Distance travelled6,701,603 km (4,164,183 mi)
Orbits completed160
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Columbia
Landing mass103,191 kg (227,497 lb)
Payload mass11,539 kg (25,439 lb)
Crew size7
Start of mission
Launch dateApril 26, 1993, 14:50:00 UTC
RocketSpace Shuttle Columbia
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39A
ContractorRockwell International
End of mission
Landing dateMay 6, 1993, 14:29:59 UTC
Landing siteEdwards Air Force Base,
Runway 22
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude304 km (189 mi)
Apogee altitude312 km (194 mi)
Period90.70 minutes

STS-55 mission patch

Standing: Harris, Schlegel, Ross, Walter
Seated: Henricks, Nagel, Precourt
← STS-56 (54)
STS-57 (56) →

STS-55, or Deutschland 2 (D-2), was the 55th overall flight of the NASA Space Shuttle and the 14th flight of Shuttle Columbia. This flight was a multinational Spacelab flight involving 88 experiments from eleven different nations. The experiments ranged from biology sciences to simple Earth observations.


Position Astronaut
Commander United States Steven R. Nagel
Fourth and last spaceflight
Pilot United States Terence T. Henricks
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 United States Jerry L. Ross
Fourth spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 United States Charles J. Precourt
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 United States Bernard A. Harris Jr.
First spaceflight
Payload Specialist 1 Germany Ulrich Walter, DLR
Only spaceflight
Payload Specialist 2 Germany Hans Schlegel, DLR
First spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Astronaut
Payload Specialist 1 Germany Gerhard Thiele, DLR
Payload Specialist 2 Germany Renate Brümmer, DLR


Columbia was initially scheduled to launch in late February 1993. However, this date slipped to early March 1993 due to concerns with the tip-seal retainers in the main engines' oxidizer turbopumps. All three turbopumps were replaced at the pad but later inspection revealed the retainers to be in good condition. Further delays were caused by the burst of a hydraulic flex hose in the aft compartment during the Flight Readiness Test (FRT). The lines were removed and inspected and three replacements were installed.

Attempt Planned Result Turnaround Reason Decision point Weather go (%) Notes
1 22 Mar 1993, 7:30:00 pm Scrubbed Technical 22 Mar 1993, 7:29 pm ​(T-0:03) Pad abort: oxidizer purge valve jammed on a chunk of O-ring, all 3 main engines changed.[1]
2 24 Apr 1993, 12:00:00 am Scrubbed 32 days, 4 hours, 30 minutes Technical Possible faulty reading with one of the inertial measurement units.[2]
3 26 Apr 1993, 2:50:00 pm Success 2 days, 14 hours, 50 minutes Launched

Mission highlights

Columbia carried to orbit the second reusable German Spacelab D-2 and demonstrated the shuttle's ability for international cooperation, exploration, and scientific research in space. The Spacelab module and an exterior experiment support structure contained in Columbia's payload bay comprised the Spacelab D-2 payload. The first German Spacelab flight, D-1, flew Shuttle mission STS-61-A in October 1985. The United States and Germany gained valuable experience for future space station operations.

The D-2 mission, as it was commonly called, augmented the German microgravity research program started by the D-1 mission. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) had been tasked by the German Space Agency (DARA - Deutsche Agentur für Raumfahrtangelegenheiten) to conduct the second mission. DLR, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and agencies in France and Japan contributed to D-2's scientific program. Eleven nations participated in the experiments. Of the 88 experiments conducted on the D-2 mission, four were sponsored by NASA.

The crew worked in two shifts around-the-clock to complete investigations into the areas of fluid physics, materials sciences, life sciences, biological sciences, technology, Earth observations, atmospheric physics, and astronomy. Many of the experiments advanced the research of the D-1 mission by conducting similar tests, using upgraded processing hardware, or implementing methods that took full advantage of the technical advancements since 1985. The D-2 mission also contained several new experiments which were not previously flown on the D-1 mission.

The mission surpassed the 365th day in space for the Space Shuttle fleet and the 100th day of flight time in space for Columbia, the fleet's oldest Space Shuttle orbiter, on its fourteenth flight.

D-2 marked the first telerobotic capture of a free floating object by flight controllers in Germany. The crew conducted the first intravenous saline solution injection in space as part of an experiment to study the human body's response to direct fluid replacement as a countermeasure for amounts lost during space flight. They also successfully completed an in-flight maintenance procedure for collection of orbiter waste water, which allowed the mission to continue.

STS-55 crew members participated in two amateur radio experiments, SAREX II from the United States and the German SAFEX. These experiments allowed students and amateur radio operators from around the world to talk directly with the Space Shuttle in orbit and participated in a SpaceMedicine conference with the Mayo Clinic.

See also


  1. ^ "Former NASA Astronaut Steven Nagel Dies at 67". August 22, 2014. Archived from the original on December 2, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  2. ^ "NASA – STS-55". NASA. Archived from the original on July 5, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2022. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.