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1989 s28 Liftoff.jpg
Liftoff of STS-28.
Mission type Satellite deployment
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 1989-061A
SATCAT № 20164
Mission duration 5 days, 1 hour, 8 seconds
Distance travelled 3,400,000 kilometres (2,100,000 mi)
Orbits completed 81
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft Space Shuttle Columbia
Payload mass 19,600 kilograms (43,200 lb)
Crew size 5
Members Brewster H. Shaw, Jr.
Richard N. Richards
James C. Adamson
David C. Leestma
Mark N. Brown
Start of mission
Launch date 8 August 1989, 12:37:00 (1989-08-08UTC12:37Z) UTC
Launch site Kennedy LC-39B
End of mission
Landing date 13 August 1989, 13:37:08 (1989-08-13UTC13:37:09Z) UTC
Landing site Edwards Runway 17
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 289 kilometers (180 mi)
Apogee 306 kilometers (190 mi)
Inclination 57.0 degrees
Period 90.5 minutes

Sts-28 crew.jpg
Left to right - Seated: Richards, Shaw, Leestma; Standing: Brown, Adamson

Space Shuttle program
← STS-30 STS-34

STS-28 was the 30th NASA Space Shuttle mission, the fourth shuttle mission dedicated to United States Department of Defense purposes, and the eighth flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. The mission launched on 8 August 1989 and traveled 2.1 million miles during 81 orbits of the Earth, before landing on runway 17 of Edwards Air Force Base, California, on 13 August. STS-28 was also Columbia's first flight since January 1986, when it had flown STS-61-C, the mission directly preceding the Challenger disaster of STS-51-L. The mission details of STS-28 are classified, but the payload is widely believed to have been the first SDS-2 communications satellite. The altitude of the mission was between 295 kilometers (183 mi) and 307 kilometers (191 mi).[1]


Position Astronaut
Commander Brewster H. Shaw, Jr.
Third spaceflight
Pilot Richard N. Richards
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 James C. Adamson
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 David C. Leestma
Second spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 Mark N. Brown
First spaceflight

Crew seating arrangements

Seat[2] Launch Landing STS-121 seating assignments.png
Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck. Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.
S1 Shaw Shaw
S2 Richards Richards
S3 Adamson Brown
S4 Leestma Leestma
S5 Brown Adamson

Mission summary

Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) lifted off from Pad 39-B, Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 8 August 1989. The launch took place at 8:37 am EDT.

During STS-28, Columbia deployed two satellites: USA-40[3] and USA-41.[4] Early reports speculated that STS-28's primary payload was an Advanced KH-11 photo-reconnaissance satellite. Later reports, and amateur satellite observations, suggest that USA-40 was instead a second-generation Satellite Data System relay,[5] similar to those likely launched on STS-38 and STS-53. These satellites had the same bus design as the LEASAT satellites deployed on other shuttle missions, and were likely deployed in the same fashion.[citation needed]

The mission marked the first flight of an 11-pound human skull, which served as the primary element of "Detailed Secondary Objective 469", also known as the In-flight Radiation Dose Distribution (IDRD) experiment. This joint NASA/DoD experiment was designed to examine the penetration of radiation into the human cranium during spaceflight. The female skull was seated in a plastic matrix, representative of tissue, and sliced into ten layers. Hundreds of thermo-luminescent dosimeters were mounted in the skull's layers to record radiation levels at multiple depths. This experiment, which also flew on STS-36 and STS-31, was located in the shuttle's mid-deck lockers on all three flights, recording radiation levels at different orbital inclinations.[6]

During the flight, the crew shut down a thruster in the reaction control system (RCS) after receiving indications of a leak. An RCS heater also malfunctioned during the flight. Post-flight analysis of STS-28 discovered unusual heating of the thermal protection system (TPS) during re-entry, caused by an early transition to turbulent plasma flow around the vehicle. A detailed report[7] identified protruding gap filler as the likely cause. This filler material was the same material that was removed during a spacewalk during STS-114, the Space Shuttle's post-Columbia disaster Return to Flight mission, in 2005.

The Shuttle Lee-side Temperature Sensing (SILTS) infrared camera package made its second flight aboard Columbia on this mission. The cylindrical pod and surrounding black tiles on the orbiter's vertical stabilizer housed an imaging system, designed to map thermodynamic conditions during reentry, on the surfaces visible from the top of the tail fin. Ironically, the camera faced the port wing of Columbia, which was breached by superheated plasma on its disastrous final flight, destroying the wing and, later, the orbiter. The SILTS system was used for only six missions before being deactivated, but the pod remained for the duration of Columbia's career.[8] Columbia's thermal protection system was also upgraded to a similar configuration as Discovery and Atlantis in between the loss of Challenger and STS-28, with many of the white LRSI tiles replaced with felt insulation blankets in order to reduce weight and turnaround time. One other minor modification that debuted on STS-28 was the move of Columbia's name from its payload bay doors to the fuselage, allowing the orbiter to be easily recognized while in orbit.

Columbia landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, at 9:37 am EDT on 13 August 1989, after a mission lasting 5 days and 1 hour.


Columbia on pad 39-B. 
Alaska's Malaspina Glacier imaged from orbit. 
STS-28 Robbins Medallion. 
The SDS-2 satellite during pre-launch preparations. 
SILTS image from STS-28 showing Columbia's left wing. 
The DSO 469 human skull. 
The SILTS pod. 

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. "STS-28 payload" (html). Retrieved 3 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "STS-28". Spacefacts. Retrieved 26 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "1989-061B". National Space Science Data Center. Retrieved 27 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "1989-061C". National Space Science Data Center. Retrieved 27 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Cassutt, Michael (August 2009). "Secret Space Shuttles". Air & Space. Retrieved April 19, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Macknight, Nigel, Space Year 1991, p.41 ISBN 0-87938-482-4
  7. "STS-28 R – Early Boundary Layer Transition" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Shuttle Infrared Leeside Temperature Sensing[dead link]

External links