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Occurred 39 years ago

STS-51J was the 21st NASA Space Shuttle mission and the first flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Space Shuttle


mission duration

4 days, 1 hour, 44 minutes, 38 seconds


Oct. 3, 1985


Oct. 7, 1985
Five astronauts pose for their group portrait. They are all wearing space flight suites. There is a small model rocket ship next to them.
STS-51J Crew photo with Commander Karol J. Bobko, Pilot Ronald J. Grabe, Mission Specialists David C. Hilmers, Robert L. Stewart and William A. Pailes.

Mission Facts

Mission: Department of Defense
Space Shuttle: Atlantis
Launch Pad: 39A
Launch Weight: Classified
Launched: Oct. 3, 1985 at 11:15:30 a.m. EDT
Landing Site: Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Landing: Oct. 7, 1985 at 10:00:08 a.m. PDT
Landing Weight: 190,400 pounds
Runway: 23
Rollout Distance: 8,056 feet
Rollout Time: 65 seconds
Revolution: 64
Mission Duration: 4 days, 1 hour, 44 minutes, 38 seconds
Returned to KSC: Oct. 11, 1985
Orbit Altitude: 319 nautical miles
Orbit Inclination: 28.5 degrees
Miles Traveled: 1.7 million


Karol J. Bobko, Commander

Ronald J. Grabe, Pilot

Robert L. Stewart, Mission Specialist

David C. Hilmers, Mission Specialist

William A. Pailes, Payload Specialist

Mission Highlights

The launch was delayed 22 minutes, 30 seconds due to a main engine liquid hydrogen prevalve close remote power controller showing a faulty ‘on’ indication. This was the second mission dedicated to the Department of Defense.

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