STS -61- C (English Space Transportation System) is a mission name for the U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia ( OV -102) from NASA. The launch took place on 12 January 1986. It was the 24th Space Shuttle mission and the seventh flight of Space Shuttle Columbia.


Home team

  • Robert Gibson ( second space flight), Commander
  • Charles Bolden (1st space flight), Pilot
  • Franklin Chang- Diaz ( 1 space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Steven Hawley ( second space flight), Mission Specialist
  • George Nelson ( second space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Robert Cenker ( first space flight), Payload Specialist, RCA Electronics
  • William Nelson ( first space flight), Payload Specialist, politicians


  • Gerard Magilton for Cenker

Launch preparations

The original launch date of 18 December 1985 was postponed several times, first by one day, because the cargo bay of Columbia could not be closed. When attempting to start on 19 December a false indication of a sensor on the launch pad forced the take-off at T-14 seconds. A next attempt on 6 January was canceled at T -31 seconds because erroneously 1800 kg of liquid oxygen had been pumped from the external tank. On January 7 reported two emergency landing in Spain and Senegal bad weather conditions, so that the countdown had to be stopped at T-9 minutes. For the take-off on January 9, a broken liquid oxygen sensor on the launch pad was responsible, which threatened to block a valve in the main economic engine of shuttle. Finally, the scheduled for January 10 launch date due to heavy rain in Cape Canaveral had to be postponed for two more days.

Mission overview

The mission STS -61- C had the task of bringing the communications satellite SATCOM KU -1 into orbit. A program for observing the comet Halley could not be carried out as planned due to battery problems of the camera. Themselves also were on board the shuttle further experiments, three of them as part of the program students SSIP NASA.

The landing was originally in Cape Canaveral Florida, scheduled for January 17. The mission management decided in view of the delays in the start of a shortening of the mission by one day to allow time for maintenance work between flights should be obtained. However, the weather in Florida could be a landing either on January 16, yet on the two following days. Finally, the space shuttle landed for an additional orbit at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The Columbia was transported back five days later by a special aircraft to Cape Canaveral, Florida.