NamesSpace Transportation System
Mission typeUlysses spacecraft deployment
Mission duration4 days, 1 hour, 11 minutes (planned)
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Challenger (planned)
Launch mass117,749 kg (259,592 lb)
Landing mass89,298 kg (196,868 lb)
Payload mass15,362 kg (33,867 lb)
Crew size4 (planned)
MembersFrederick H. Hauck
Roy D. Bridges Jr.
John M. Lounge
David C. Hilmers
Start of mission
Launch date15 May 1986, 20:10:00 UTC (planned)
RocketSpace Shuttle Challenger
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39B
ContractorRockwell International
End of mission
Landing date19 May 1986, 21:21:00 UTC (planned)
Landing siteKennedy Space Center,
SLF Runway 15
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit (planned)
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude300 km (190 mi)
Apogee altitude307 km (191 mi)
Period90.60 minutes

STS-61-F mission patch

John M. Lounge, Roy D. Bridges Jr., Frederick H. Hauck, David C. Hilmers
← STS-51-L (25)

STS-61-F was a NASA Space Shuttle mission planned to launch on 15 May 1986 using Challenger. It was canceled after Challenger was destroyed earlier that year.


Position Astronaut
Commander Frederick H. Hauck
Would have been third spaceflight
Pilot Roy D. Bridges Jr.
Would have been second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 John M. Lounge
Would have been second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 David C. Hilmers
Would have been second spaceflight

Mission objectives

The main objective of STS-61-F was to deploy the Ulysses solar probe, which would travel to Jupiter and use it as a gravitational slingshot in order to be placed into polar orbit around the Sun. This mission would have marked the first use of the Centaur-G liquid-fueled payload booster, which would also be used on the subsequent mission to send the Galileo probe in orbit around Jupiter.

Due to the use of the Centaur-G and its volatile propellants, this mission was considered to be one of the most dangerous Space Shuttle flights attempted, with the Chief of the Astronaut Office John W. Young referring to the two Centaur flights as the "Death Star" flights.[1] The flight was risky enough that Commander Hauck gave his crewmates an option to leave the crew if they considered the mission to be too unsafe.[2]

After the loss of Challenger, most of the crew (without Roy D. Bridges Jr., who left NASA in 1986) would fly as the crew of the first post-Challenger mission, STS-26. Bridges was replaced by Richard O. Covey and a third Mission Specialist (George D. "Pinky" Nelson) was added to the crew. Ulysses was eventually deployed from Discovery on STS-41, using the solid-fueled Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) and Payload Assist Module (PAM-S) instead of the Centaur-G, which had been canceled after the Challenger disaster.

See also


  1. ^ Bergin, Chris (26 October 2005). "Flights of the 'Death Star'". Retrieved 18 July 2013. "'John Young called it the 'Death Star'. Behind the dark humour, however, lay real concern for the then-chief of NASA's astronaut corps".
  2. ^ Bergin, Chris (26 October 2005). "Flights of the 'Death Star'". Retrieved 18 July 2013. 'Safety is being compromised and, if any of you want to take yourself off this flight, I will support you'.