NASA Fact Sheet

STS-49 (Intelsat/Asem) Mission Profile
Quick Look

Launch: Kennedy Space Center, Fla., May, 1992
Landing: Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Orbiter: (OV-l05) Endeavour
Initial Altitude: 137x186 nautical miles
Inclination: 28.35 degrees
Mission Duration: 7 days (2 days provided for weather and contingencies)

Daniel C. Brandenstein - Commander
Kevin P. Chilton - Pilot
Richard J. Hieb - Mission Specialist 1
Bruce E. Melnick - Mission Specialist 2
Pierre J. Thuot - Mission Specialist 3
Kathryn C. Thornton - Mission Specialist 4
Thomas D. Akers - Mission Specialist 5

Cargo Bay Payloads
Intelsat Upper Stage
ASEM (Assembly of Station by EVA Methods) Equipment
AMOS (Air Force Maui Optical System) Experiement

Middeck Payloads
PCG (Protein Crystal Growth)
CVTE (Crystals by Vapor Transport Experiment)

Mission Highlights
First flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour
Retrieve, repair and re-deploy stranded INTELSAT-VI satellite
Three Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs)

Mission Objectives

Endeavour Flight Test

All of Endeavour's basic systems will be thoroughly tested and evaluated during the 7-day maiden flight. As the newest member of the Shuttle fleet, Endeavour has several new features that will be evaluated including new avionics, hydraulic and braking systems. The most visible test will be the first use of a drag chute which will be deployed after landing to assist in slowing the orbiter during rollout.

Intelsat Reboost

An ambitious set of objectives await Endeavour and its seven member crew. Among the primary goals is to rendezvous with an INTELSAT-VI communications satellite stranded in a wrong orbit for 2 years. After Endeavour and INTELSAT-VI have been maneuvered close to each other, the satellite will be captured by the crewmen with a special capture bar. The robot arm then will be attached to the capture bar and the satellite will be berthed atop the upper stage in the payload bay. During an EVA, astronauts Pierre Thuot and Rick Hieb will attach the new upper stage to the INTELSAT-VI satellite. The satellite then will be released and maneuvered by INTELSAT ground controllers to its proper orbit.

INTELSAT-VI Background

Owned and operated by the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT), the INTELSAT-VI satellite is one in a series of five commercial communications satellites that is part of a network designed to provide voice, video and data services to Earth stations located in l80 countries. When fully deployed, the spacecraft measures 38 feet in height, ll.9 feet in diameter and weighs 8,960 pounds.

Four of the INTELSAT-VI satellites have been successfully placed in geostationary orbit by a mix of Ariane and Titan launch vehicles. Launched aboard a Titan, the third INTELSAT-VI experienced a satellite/launch vehicle separation malfunction on March l4, l990, which left the spacecraft stranded in low Earth orbit. Engineers have since placed the spacecraft in a stable thermal and power state and raised its orbit to 299x309 nautical miles.

INTELSAT is an international commercial cooperative of l21 nations that owns and operates the global communications satellite system.

Reboost Mission Hardware

Funded by INTELSAT and built by Hughes Aircraft Company, a specially designed cradle, located in the aft payload bay, will support the booster element and associated equipment into orbit. The perigee kick motor (PKM) is built by United Technologies Corporation and weighs 23,000 pounds. A special PKM adapter incorporates the Lockheed Missile and Space Company Superzip technology to permit separation of the PKM from the cradle. The PKM will be connected to the satellite via a forward spacecraft adapter in combination with a docking adapter.

Also located in the payload bay will be a spacecraft capture bar with a releasable grapple fixture, EVA power tools with extensions and sockets, and electrical connector tool(s) will be stored in the crew cabin. The Remote Manipulator System (RMS) also will be used during the EVA in combination with the Portable Foot Restraint Attachment Device (PAD) attached to the end effector.

Retrieval/Reboost Operations

At the 46 hour MET and about 6 hours before Endeavour's approach, the satellite will be spun-down to less than 0.5 RPM. Endeavour then will approach INTELSAT-VI and station-keep within RMS grapple range.

Approximately l and l/2 hours before the RMS capture of the satellite, EVA crew members Pierre Thuot and Rick Hieb will enter the payload bay to begin preparations for capture and PKM attachment. Once Thuot is situated upon the RMS PAD, Tom Akers will maneuver Thuot within reach of the satellite. Thuot will install and soft dock the capture bar across the aft end of the INTELSAT-VI and manually halt the satellite's remaining rotation. Next, the capture bar will be hard docked to the spacecraft. The RMS then will move in to grapple the satellite and maneuver it to a position where Thuot can egress the RMS. The PAD will be removed and Thuot and Hieb will install the starboard capture bar alignment extension.

INTELSAT-VI is next moved within proximity of the docking adapter and secured in place using the soft capture alignment guides. Thuot and Hieb will secure the satellite docking latches and join the satellite to the docking adapter. They also will mate the two electrical umbilicals, release the restraining pins from the pushoff springs, and release the RMS grapple fixture and capture bar alignment extensions. The capture bar is released from the satellite, repositioned and secured to the docking adapter. Thuot will conclude the activity by activating the Staging and Boost Unit timer and then move into the airlock prior to spacecraft deployment.

After Endeavour attains the correct attitude, deployment of the INTELSAT-VI will be initiated from the Aft Flight Deck. Approximately 35 minutes after deploy and orbiter separation, the INTELSAT Launch Control Center will increase the satellite's spin rate and place it in the proper attitude for the PKM firing.

Once ignited, the PKM will boost the satellite into a super-synchronous transfer orbit with an apogee of 48,000 nautical miles. A series of ground commands will subsequently lower the satellite into the geosynchronous orbit. Upon completion of on-orbit testing, INTELSAT-VI is expected to be placed in service in the Atlantic Ocean Region by mid-l992.

Assembly Of Station By EVA Methods (ASEM)

The Assembly of Station by EVA Methods is being flown to demonstrate and verify Space Station Freedom (SSF) EVA maintenance and assembly capabilities. ASEM consists of hardware necessary to construct one full bay of truss structure components and to evaluate critical SSF EVA assembly tasks and techniques. The following ASEM objectives, which are subject to change, include:

  • Demonstration of the ability to perform three, two-crew member
    EVA's on consecutive flight days.

  • Evaluate operational concepts for attaching hardware to SSF truss structure.

  • Evaluate crew self-rescue devices and techniques.

  • Examine proposed SSF assembly areas forward and above the payload bay.

  • Gather data on various techniques and handling aids during manipulation and berthing of large masses.

  • Evaluate RMS berthing operations using EVA verbal guidance and portable video camera to augment direct viewing. Use of existing payload bay cameras also will be evaluated.

  • Examine handling, transport and assembly techniques for truss structure and truss attachment hardware.

    ASEM operations will be conducted during two consecutive 6-hour EVAs.

    Secondary Payloads


    The Air Force Maui Optical System is an electrical-optical facility on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. The orbiter will be used during overflights of Maui to obtain imagery or signature data to support calibration of the AMOS ground-based infrared and optical sensors and to observe plume phenomenology under a variety of attitude and lighting conditions. This experiment has flown on previous Space Shuttle missions.


    Developed by the Boeing Aerospace Company, the Crystals by Vapor Transport Experiment will grow crystals of selected materials in a controlled environment under microgravity conditions. Results attained may be applied to materials of commercial value in semi-conductor and electro-optical devices. The payload consists of three furnaces installed inside a Middeck Accommodations Rack.


    The primary objective of each Protein Crystal Growth payload is to conduct experiments that will supply information on the scientific methods and commercial potential for growing high quality protein crystals in a controlled microgravity environment.

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