STS -51- C (English Space Transportation System) is a mission name for the U.S. Space Shuttle Discovery ( OV -103 ) from NASA. The launch took place on 24 January 1985. It was the 15th Space Shuttle mission and the third flight of the space shuttle Discovery.


Home team

  • Thomas Mattingly ( third space flight), Commander
  • Loren Shriver ( 1 space flight), Pilot
  • James Buchli ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Ellison Onizuka ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Gary Payton ( first space flight), Payload Specialist


  • Keith Wright for Payton

Payton and Wright were not the NASA of, but were of the U.S. Air Force as a military payload specialist ( Manned Space Flight Engineers) selected for this flight.

Mission overview

STS -51- C was a military mission on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense.

According to the original plan, the mission should be flown by the shuttle Challenger. However, this was not available due to problems with the heat protection tiles.

Due to the cold weather, the start had to be postponed by one day.

Mission objective was the suspension of a geostationary satellite reconnaissance over the Soviet Union. The mission objective at that time was subject to confidentiality.