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STS-52 Columbia, Orbiter Vehicle (OV) 102, crew insignia


Occurred 32 years ago

The primary mission objectives were the deployment of the Laser Geodynamic Satellite II (LAGEOS-II) and operation of the U.S. Microgravity Payload-1 (USMP-1).



mission duration

9 days, 20 hours, 56 minutes


October 22, 1992


November 1, 1992
STS-52 Crew Portrait with American and Canadian flags behind them
Five NASA astronauts and one Canadian payload specialist composed the STS-52 crew. Pictured on the back row, left to right, are Michael A. Baker, pilot; James B. Wetherbee, commander; and Steven G. MacLean, payload specialist. On the front row, left to right, are mission specialists Charles (Lacy) Veach, Tamara Jernigan, and William Shepherd. Launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia on October 22, 1992 at 1:09:39 p.m. (EDT), the crew’s primary objectives were the deployment of the Laser Geodynamic Satellite (LAGEOS II) and operation of the U.S. Microgravity Payload-1 (USMP-1).

STS-52 Mission Facts

Mission: USMP-1; LAGEOS II
Space Shuttle: Columbia
Launch Pad: 39B
Launch Weight: 250,130 pounds
Launched: October 22, 1992, 1:09:39:33 p.m. EDT
Landing Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: November 1, 1992, 9:05:52 a.m. EST
Landing Weight: 215,114 pounds
Runway: 33
Rollout Distance: 10,708 feet
Rollout Time: 63 seconds
Revolution: 159
Mission Duration: 9 days, 20 hours, 56 minutes and 13 seconds
Orbit Altitude: 163 nautical miles
Orbit Inclination: 28.45 degrees
Miles Traveled: 4.1 million


James D. Wetherbee, Commander
Michael A. Baker, Pilot
Charles L. Veach, Mission Specialist
William M. Shepherd, Mission Specialist
Tamara E. Jernigan, Mission Specialist
Steven A. MacLean, Payload Specialist

Mission Highlights

The primary mission objectives were the deployment of the Laser Geodynamic Satellite II (LAGEOS-II) and operation of the U.S. Microgravity Payload-1 (USMP-1). LAGEOS-II, a joint effort between NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), was deployed on day two and boosted into an initial elliptical orbit by ASI’s Italian Research Interim Stage (IRIS). The spacecraft’s apogee kick motor later circularized LAGEOS orbit at its operational altitude of 3,666 miles. The USMP-1, which was activated on day one, included three experiments mounted on two connected Mission Peculiar Equipment Support Structures (MPESS) mounted in the orbiter’s cargo bay. USMP-1 experiments were: Lambda Point Experiment; Materiel Pour L’Etude Des Phenomenes Interessant La Solidification Sur Et En Orbite (MEPHISTO), sponsored by the French agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales; and Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS).

Secondary payloads: (1) Canadian experiment, CANEX-2, located in both the orbiter’s cargo bay and middeck and which consisted of Space Vision System (SVS); Materials Exposure in Low-Earth Orbit (MELEO); Queen’s University Experiment in Liquid-Metal Diffusion (QUELD); Phase Partitioning in Liquids (PARLIQ); Sun Photospectrometer Earth Atmosphere Measurement-2 (SPEAM-2); Orbiter Glow-2 (OGLOW-2); and Space Adaptation Tests and Observations (SATO). A small, specially marked satellite, the Canadian Target Assembly, was deployed on day nine, to support SVS experiments. (2) ASP, featuring three independent sensors mounted on a Hitchhiker plate in the cargo bay -, Modular Star Sensor, Yaw Earth Sensor and Low Altitude Conical Earth Sensor, all provided by the European Space Agency.

Other middeck payloads: Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Instrument Technology Associates Experiments; Commercial Protein Crystal Growth experiment; Chemical Vapor Transport Experiment; Heat Pipe Performance Experiment; Physiological Systems Experiment (involving 12 rodents); and Shuttle Plume Impingement Experiment. The orbiter also was used as a reference point for calibrating an Ultraviolet Plume Instrument on an orbiting Strategic Defense Initiative Organization satellite.

The Tank Pressure Control Experiment/Thermal Phenomena (TPCE/TP) was contained in a Getaway Special (GAS) canister in the orbiter’s cargo bay.

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