STS -41 -B (English Space Transportation System) is a mission name for the U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger ( OV -99) NASA. The launch took place on 3 February 1984. It was the tenth space shuttle mission and the fourth flight of the space shuttle Challenger.
- Vance Brand ( third space flight), Commander
- Robert Gibson ( first space flight), Pilot
- Bruce McCandless ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
- Ronald McNair (1st space flight), Mission Specialist
- Robert Stewart ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
STS -41 -B was the first flight of a space shuttle, in which both the start and landing at the Kennedy Space Center have been made.
A highlight of the flight was the first free spacewalk. Here, the astronauts Bruce McCandless used and Robert Stewart Manned Maneuvering Units and were completely independent of the Shuttle.
When charge the shuttle had the two satellites WESTAR -VI and PALAPA B2 on board. However, due to a failure of the Payload Assist Module -D ( PAM -D) they came in too low orbit. In the course of the mission STS -51- A, these two satellites were salvaged in space and returned to Earth.
With this mission, a new numbering system for shuttle flights has been introduced. The digit 4 was for the U.S. financial year 1984, which went from October 1983 to September 1984, the one for the starting place Kennedy Space Center. The letter B indicated that it acted according to plan to the second mission of the year. The first was STS -9, which was numbered under the old system.
This new system also avoided to assign the number 13 on a shuttle flight. Officially, it was at NASA not superstitious, but the only manned flight with this number, Apollo 13, had almost ended in disaster.
The new system was used until the flight STS -51- L, which was planned in the financial year 1985, but only started in January 1986. The space shuttle broke apart shortly after the start, leading to a break of over two years by itself.
From the next flight, STS -26, we returned to the numbering.