STS -38 (English Space Transportation System) is a mission name for the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis NASA. The launch took place on 15 November 1990. It was the 37th Space Shuttle mission and the seventh flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis.


  • Richard Covey ( third space flight), Commander
  • Frank Culbertson (1st space flight), Pilot
  • Robert Springer ( second space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Carl Meade ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Charles Gemar ( first space flight), Mission Specialist

Mission overview

STS -38 was a mission of the Defense of the United States. Therefore, the payload was subject to confidentiality.

According to Aviation Week, sat STS -38 a secret Magnum ELINT spy satellites ( ELectronic INTelligence ) in geosynchronous orbit. Identical satellites were therefore started by STS -51 -C and STS -33. The satellite was used to monitor the Gulf War in 1990.

According to Aviation Week, the shuttle was initially in a 204x519 km orbit with an inclination of 28.45 ° to the equator. Through three fuel spurts from the main engine during the first four orbits, the orbit has been adjusted. Thus, a circular orbit was taken.

The satellite was suspended during the seventh mission in orbit, using the Inertial Upper Stage he taught during the eighth Erdumlaufes himself in the planned geosynchronous orbit. Officially was given only known by the U.S. Air Force that the payload successfully exposed and she was stationed in orbit.

November 15, 1990, 18:48:13 EST. The launch was originally scheduled for July 1990. Due to a hydrogen leak that had been found on the shuttle Columbia during the countdown to STS -35, Auftanktests been made to the Atlantis on June 29 and July 13 and July 25. Here, the existence of the leak confirmed. The problem could not be solved on the spot, the Atlantis was brought to the construction hall on August 9 back. Same time, since the Columbia ( STS- 35) was transported to the launch pad, the Atlantis one days had to spend outdoors about unprotected. She suffered doing light damage during a storm.

Following repair, the shuttle has been prepared again for the launch. Here were again caused by an error during the work minor damage that could be repaired on site. On 12 October, the Atlantis rolled to the launch pad 39A. Forty short tests on the tank were carried out on 24 October, it was not a major leak be discovered. The launch was therefore set for November 9. Due to problems with the payload of the appointment on November 15th has been postponed. The launch could be carried out within the planned time window ( 18:30 to 22:30 ). The total weight at the start remained secret.

On 20 November 1990 16:42:42 EST Atlantis landed on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The run was 2753 meters, the flow time 57 seconds. The mission was due to poor weather conditions ( winds) between the originally planned landing site Edwards Air Force Base, California has been extended by one day. Persistently poor conditions led to a relocation of the landing after Florida. This was the first landing of Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center, as well as the first landing of a shuttle there since 1985. The landing weight was 86.7 t.