Author Topic: Challenger STS 41-B / First MMU EVA and first KSC landing - Screenshots  (Read 36435 times)

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The first shuttle mission of 1984 - Challenger STS 41-B - produced some of the most iconic pictures of the U.S. space program: The first human satellite. It also was the first time NASA succeded in landing a shuttle at Kennedy Space Center.

But it also was a mission of consecutive failures - two satellites were deployed into wrong orbits, a target balloon blew up and a RMS wrist-failure hampered the dress rehearsal of the upcoming Solar Max repair flight. - Those of you old enough probably will remember NASA getting real bad PR treatment, especially during the first stage of the mission.

Now let me show you screenshots of how it was - back in the good old "Buck Rogers era" of the space shuttle:




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Crew training

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Even if it was his first trip into space, Bruce McCandless had been deeply involved into the space program since the 1960s. He had been CapCom during Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon:

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In the early 1970s McCandless participated in the development of an "indoor" prototype of the Manned Maneuvering Unit. It was tested aboard Skylab.

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Now McCandless trained for the real thing...

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Launch preparations

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February 3, 1984 - Launch Day

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It's 8:00 am EST and the year's first of five remarkable shuttle missions is on it's way...

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House member (D-Fla.) and future STS 61-C crew member Bill Nelson is watching the launch...

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I was the first MPS Engineer to support this first ever KSC Landing. This was a monumental event for the KSC team.  The support required me to be on the runway in the convoy that you see on TV when the orbiter lands.  Then post landing I was there to inspect our T-O umbilicals and the ORB/ET umbilicals.  A very interesting note was that the face of the Fill/Drain propellant disconnect valves were so cold from space that moisture from Florida's environment (compared to the dryness at Edward's) caused quite a bit of water to form in the fill/drain insert and valve flapper.  My job focused on a possible contingency operation to perform a pressurization operation of the ten MPS/SSME helium tanks. Four of which are situated in the aft fuselage and the remaining 6 are under the PLB liner in the Midbody.  The Orbiter's design was well thought out by Rockwell when the shuttle was built.  We would pressurize all ten interconnected tanks via the LH2 T-0 umbilical's helium fill flt QD (ref des 50V41PD8) via a ground half QD which we manually connected to the Flt half and a long high press flexhose running down the ladder truck's ladder and to a Helium Tube Bank trailer truck.  Pressure to the helium tanks would be cranked up via a pneumatic panel called the S70-1287-1 panel to 2000 psi.  The flt MPS helium regulator would automatically regulate the 2000 psi down to 750 psi, then our MPS LH2 and LO2 Manifold repress regs would automatically regulate and maintain pressure to 20-40 psi.  We would then repress the LH2 and LO2 Manifolds to 20-40 psi to preclude moisture getting into the SSMEs and MPS manifolds during post landing and tow operations.  If we were not in the controlled environment of the OPF within 18 hrs post wheel stop our File III, V41 OMRSD reqmnts forced us to perform sampling and dew point testing of both manifolds including a lengthy pulse purging operation that none of us wanted to deal with on top of all the other post OPF roll-in operations.  The Helium tank pressurization and manifold pressurization ops were always done for every landing at Edward's, White Sands and operation because we did not have an OPF to go into at the desert landing strips so we did have quite a bit of practice.

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Wow, great background information. Thanks Steve. :)

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Eight hours after lift-off, at 4:00 pm EST, the Western Union's communications satellite Westar VI was first in line to be deployed by the astronauts.

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« Last Edit: 12/21/2011 09:45 PM by Ares67 »

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"Tell all those Westar folks they really have a pretty bird."
« Last Edit: 12/21/2011 09:59 PM by Ares67 »

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Well, a pretty bird, but in the wrong orbit. The exhaust nozzle of the PAM-D rocket motor burned through, stranding Westar VI - heading for geostationary orbit - in a low and useless orbit.

Deployment of the second satellite, the Indonesian Palapa B-2, which had been scheduled for flight day 2, was put on hold until flight controllers could determine what went wrong. Palapa was also equipped with a PAM-D.

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February 4, 1984 - SPAS-01 Activation

Since there would be no satellite launch on flight day 2, eight experiments on the German Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS-01) were activated ahead of time. These mainly included material science and earth observation.

Built by the same company that had developed spacelab hardware, this reusable satellite was flying for the second time. During STS-7 it had become the first payload to be deployed and retrieved by the shuttle. In addition to that, it had provided the first spectacular views of the orbiter Challenger in orbit.

During STS 41-B SPAS was to be deployed in order to simulate approach and capture of a satellite by spacewalking astronauts - target practice for the Solar Max repair mission. But the hand-wrist of the RMS failed and SPAS remained inside Challenger's payload bay.
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February 5, 1984 - IRT Deployment

A small metallic balloon, called Integrated Rendezvous Target, was released from Challenger's payload bay. But as if to proof Murphy's law, it did not inflate as planned - it blew up.

Nevertheless the KU-Band antenna tracked the remains of IRT and by that successfully tested the rendezvous radar system. "Another failure in space" was the media reaction - but the main goal of the IRT experiment actually had been reached.

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February 6, 1984 - Palapa B-2 Deployment

Nobody could guarantee success, but a second PAM failure did not seem  likely. So, with permission of it's Indonesian owners, Palapa B-2 was released into space.

Challenger astronauts followed the performance of the PAM-D motor with the help of the RMS wrist camera (The orbiter flew in an attitude that protected it's cockpit windows from the rocket's exhaust plume. So, in a way, the RMS had to look over Challenger's "shoulder")

But Mr. Murphy still plagued this mission - again the PAM-D fizzled out and  a satellite was stranded in low earth orbit. "The shuttle loses another satellite" was the media reaction. But actually the shuttle system could not be blamed for PAM-D motor failures, which also could have happened during a deployment by a Delta rocket.

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February 7, 1984 - "A heck of a big leap"

One thing was clear: This mission was in need of a morale boost! And here it came...

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Riding the MMU up to 300 ft (91 m) away from Challenger, McCandless became the first human satellite. "That may have been one small step for Neil, but it's a heck of a big leap for me", he told CapCom Jerry Ross.

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When McCandless returned to the payload bay, Bob Stewart took his turn in the MMU. McCandless meanwhile stepped into the Manipulator Foot Restraint (MFR), which had been attached to the RMS. The MFR would be used in order to move spacewalking astronauts around the shuttle and hold them in a steady position. - This was another dress rehearsal for Solar Max.

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And what's the vote of the Houston jury?  ;D

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February 8. 1984 - Rest and Preparation for EVA 2

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February 9, 1984 - EVA 2 and a telephone call from earth

During their second EVA of the mission McCandless and Stewart further evaluated the MMU backpacks and tested the T-PAD (Trunnion Pin Attachment Device). With this device the next crew would go after Solar Max. T-PAD was to be attached to a pin on the satellite, so the RMS could grapple it and put Solar Max into Challenger's payload bay. During STS 41-B such a pin was located on the sidewall of the payload bay.
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And then Vance Brand got the chance to fly a rendezvous in space. A foot restraint at the MMU service station came loose and floated away. McCandless instructed the commander from the outside and retrieved the foot restrain when it came into his reach. By that he earned cheers and applause from his colleagues at Mission Control.

During a PR event later into the mission Vance Brand revealed that Bruce McCandless and Bob Stewart called each other Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon after their successful MMU tests.
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And while the two spacewalkers prepared to reenter the airlock, Mission Control relayed a telephone call from Rancho del Cielo near Santa Barbara in California...

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CapCom: Challenger, Houston. The president of the United States...

Reagan: Commander Brand, I'd like to say a good morning to you and your crew. I'm talking to you from California. I don't know exactly where you are, but I know you are up there someplace.

You are all doing a fine job on this historic mission. And I'd like to say hello to Bruce McCandless and Bob Stewart, who are sending us this spectacular TV coverage of man's historic walk in space.

Let me ask you: What's it like to work out there unattached to the shuttle, maneuvering freely in space?

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McCandless: Well, we had a great deal of training, Sir, so it feels quite comfortable. The view is simply spectacular and panoramic. And we believe with the maneuvering units working first time unattached we are literally opening a new frontier of what man can do in space. And we'll be paving the way for many important operations on the coming space station, Sir.
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Reagan: Well, that is just great. You've really opened a new era for the world in space with this mission. You've shown both our commercial partners and our foreign partners, who play an important role in this and in missions to come, that man has the tools to work effectively in space.

I understand you had an opportunity this morning - an unexpected and unscheduled thing - maneuvering the shuttle and making the recovery of an object in space. Commander...

Brand: Yes, Sir.

Reagan: What do you and Hoot Gibson and Ron McNair do while Bruce and Bob are working outside?

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Brand: Well, we are pretty busy in here just keeping track of them. They have a lot of tests to go through. And it is the first check of something that is rather futuristic... the backpack, the Manned Maneuvering Unit. So, we are just monitoring them and making sure that we don't loose sight of them.

Reagan: That's good. Say, Hoot, I understand you must have a special interest in making sure everything is working right up there. And your wife will be making the trip on board the shuttle this summer. Any tips to pass along to her?

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Gibson: Ah, that's true, Mr. President. She is flying up about in August.

(Actually, after the delay of Discovery's maiden voyage in the summer of 1984, Rhea Seddon's mission got cancelled and she was reassigned to Mission STS 51-D - which was launched in April 1985)

And that's why I am trying to check everything out, to make sure it's gonna work well when she goes. The fact of myself going up doesn't bother me, but I think I will be nervous when she goes.

Reagan: I can understand that. Do you think she will enjoy it?

Gibson: I know she will enjoy it.

Reagan: Well, now, could I ask how are the experiments onboard the shuttle working out? I understand that you have one dealing with arthritis, and other experiments onboard that may lead to advances in manufacturing and the various types of material processing.


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McNair: Yes, Mr. President, the experiments are working out very well. We are pleased with the results we are seeing. And a lot of promise is being demonstrated in all the areas you just mentioned. And we look forward to get them back on the ground, analyse them and then make good use of the results.

Reagan: Well, let me again congratulate all of you onboard the space shuttle Challenger. You are doing a fine job. Your commitment and courage on this historic flight I think are an inspiration to all of us. And I know you have things to do that are much more important than getting a telephone call from earth. So, let me just say to you: Have a save journey home and god bless you all.

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Brand: Thank you very much for calling, Sir. We really appreciate it.

Reagan: It's my pleasure.

McCandless: I'm proud to be a part of this mission.

Reagan: ... alright! Good bye.

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And then, after another day of rest and onboard systems checkout, it was time to pack up and return to earth...

« Last Edit: 12/23/2011 11:08 AM by Ares67 »

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February 11, 1984 - Landing at Kennedy Space Center

On that day the world's attention was focused  on events in Moscow, because Soviet leader Yuri Andropov had died two days earlier and everybody was speculating about his successor (it was Konstantin Chernenko, as we would learn Feb. 13).

But of course for us the real news that day was the first return of the space shuttle to the SLF at Kennedy Space Center.

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Astronauts had practiced SLF approaches a lot, and you couldn't blame Bob Crippen for not trying hard enough to bring Challenger STS-7 to the shuttle's home port. The welcome beer still was cold at KSC, so Vance Brand and his crew were highly motivated... ;D

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CapCom John Blaha and Guy Gardner

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Vehicle in sight...

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Entering the HAC...

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Too bad on later flights they ceased sending up the T-38 jets during landings. The views were quite spectacular.

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Wheels down...

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Main gear touchdown...
« Last Edit: 12/23/2011 12:32 PM by Ares67 »

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Nose gear touchdown...

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Bye, bye, my little friend... ;D

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Wheels stop...

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Hi, Steve_the_Deev - you should be somewhere down there, right?  ;)


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Something you probably didn't encounter during Edwards landings...

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Welcome back, 41-B crew!

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Red carpet treatment at KSC :)

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The first shuttle landing at KSC was celebrated at the Visitor Complex.

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« Last Edit: 12/23/2011 01:52 PM by Ares67 »

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Paul Gibson, Reggie McNair and Eric Brand - and some guys holding them... ;D

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Challenger meanwhile is rolled back into the OPF.

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Let me end this with a quote taken from Ben Evans' book "Space Shuttle Challenger - Ten Journeys Into the Unknown" (p.112), describing the situation after two satellites and a target balloon were lost in space:

"Added Joe Allen: They were now zero for three in satellite deployments! I've never asked him, but I wondered what Bruce was thinking at that point, because he was going to be the fourth satellite!" ;D

Actually nothing was lost - they even found a solution for Westar VI and Palapa B-2. But that's another story...

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And if you have not joined L2 already, here is another reason to do so:

STS 41-B Hi-Res photo archive

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=13679.0

 ;)

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