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Occurred 39 years ago

STS-61B was NASA's 23rd Space Shuttle mission, and its second using Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Space Shuttle


mission duration

6 days, 21 hours, 4 minutes, 49 seconds


November 26, 1985


December 3, 1985
The STS-61B crew photo with the crew patch in front of the seven astronauts
The crew assigned to the STS-61B mission included (kneeling left to right) Bryan D. O’Connor, pilot; and Brewster H. Shaw, commander. On the back row, left to right, are Charles D. Walker, payload specialist; mission specialists Jerry L. Ross, Mary L. Cleave, and Sherwood C. Spring; and Rodolpho Neri Vela, payload specialist. Launched aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis November 26, 1985 at 7:29:00 pm (EST), the STS-61B mission’s primary payload included three communications satellites: MORELOS-B (Mexico); AUSSAT-2 (Australia); and SATCOM KU-2 (RCA American). Two experiments were conducted to test assembling erectable structures in space: EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in Extravehicular Activity), and ACCESS (Assembly Concept for Construction of Erectable Space Structure). In a joint venture between NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), the ACCESS was developed and demonstrated at MSFC’s Neutral Buoyancy Simulator (NBS). The primary objective of this experiment was to test the ACCESS structural assembly concept for suitability as the framework for larger space structures and to identify ways to improve the productivity of space construction.

Mission Facts

Space Shuttle: Atlantis
Launch Pad: 39A
Launch Weight: 261,455 pounds
Launched: November 26, 1985, 7:29:00 p.m. EST
Landing Site: Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Landing: December 3, 1985, 1:33:49 p.m. PST
Landing Weight: 205,732 pounds
Runway: 22
Rollout Distance: 10,759 feet
Rollout Time: 78 seconds
Revolution: 109
Mission Duration: 6 days, 21 hours, 4 minutes, 49 seconds
Returned to KSC: December 7, 1985
Orbit Altitude: 225 nautical miles
Orbit Inclination: 57 degrees
Miles Traveled: 2.8 million


Brewster H. Shaw, Jr., Commander

Bryan D. O’Connor, Pilot

Mary L. Cleave, Mission Specialist

Sherwood C. Spring, Mission Specialist

Jerry L. Ross, Mission Specialist

Rodolpho Neri Vela, Payload Specialist

Charles D. Walker, Payload Specialist

Mission Highlights

Three communications satellites were deployed: MORE LOS-B (Mexico), AUSSAT-2 (Australia) and SATCOM KU-2 (RCA Americom). MORELOS-B and AUSSAT-2 were attached to the Payload Assist Module-D motors, SATCOM KU-2 to a PAM-D2 designed for heavier payloads. Two experiments were conducted to test assembling erectable structures in space: Experimental Assembly of Structures in Extravehicular Activity (EASE) and Assembly Concept for Construction of Erectable Space Structure (ACCESS). The experiments required two space walks by Spring and Ross lasting five hours, 32 minutes, and six hours, 38 minutes, respectively. Middeck payloads: Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES); Diffusive Mixing of Organic Solutions (DMOS); Morelos Payload Specialist Experiments (MPSE) and Orbiter Experiments (OEX). In payload bay: Get Away Special and IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC).

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