STS -85 (English Space Transportation System) is the designation for a flight mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle Discovery ( OV -103 ) from NASA. The launch took place on 7 August 1997. It was the 86th Space Shuttle mission and the 23rd flight of the space shuttle Discovery.


  • Curtis Brown ( fourth space flight), Commander
  • Kent Rominger ( third space flight), Pilot
  • January Davis ( third space flight ), Mission Specialist
  • Robert Curbeam ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Stephen Robinson ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Bjarni Tryggvason ( first space flight), Payload Specialist (CSA / Canada)

Originally Jeffrey Ashby was intended as a pilot, but he was replaced in March 1997 by Kent Rominger, who had carried out a space flight on STS -80 in December 1996.

Mission Description

A few hours after the start put the Discovery crew the German research satellite CRISTA -SPAS ( Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the Atmosphere ) to its second mission from. The focus of his work was the study of the middle layers of the atmosphere. With special telescopes and spectrometers temperature, trace gases in the middle atmosphere and currents were measured, in particular the concentration of ozone and ozone -decomposing substances. Also high ice clouds in the polar stratosphere ( PSCs ) and mesosphere were discovered ( PMCs ), and large flow systems in the atmosphere, similar to the ocean currents. For direct data reception, it was necessary to constantly maintain a distance of 40 to 100 kilometers from the satellite. In total, more than 150 orbital maneuvers were required for this.

Another program was the test of a Japanese robot arm ( manipulator Flight Demonstration MFD ) for the Space Station. With his help, complicated work was carried out, the loosening of screws and opening doors. Here, the manipulator moving on a lattice structure along which was anchored in the payload bay. About a computer display, an operator also was possible if the object to be detected was not directly visible. Thus, the robot arm could also be operated from a ground station.

A total of 24 scientific studies on the areas of technology, medicine, ecology and astronomy were carried out. To the latter belonged observations of comet Hale- Bopp with a 18- centimeter - ultraviolet telescope. With it, 30 frames per second were recorded electronically by 7 different filters at several three-hour series of observations. Furthermore, were in the cargo bay, an extreme -ultraviolet spectrograph to observe the sun, other stars and other celestial bodies, another UV spectrograph for astronomical planetary research and designed by students experiment to measure the solar radiation in the UV and X-rays.

A remote-controlled experimental complex (Technology Applications and Science CAS) in the payload bay included studies to determine the solar constant and the heat radiation from the sun (infrared radiometer ) and to measure cloud heights, soil profiles and surface vegetation with a laser rangefinder. Moreover appliances were tested for temperature control as well as for long-term cooling ( experiment Cooler). For the application was again the Space Vision System, could be used with which digitally compresses the signals of multiple cameras and transmitted through a channel to the ground station.

Further experiments involved the observation of combustion processes in microgravity, the study of the growth of cancer cells in the Bioreactor Demonstration System BDS and the detailed test an advanced, floating on a magnetic platform, the movements of the Space Shuttle to dampen such an extent that not on her held experiments can be significantly disturbed (Experiment MIM). Smaller computer problems at MIM, MFD and TAS were largely resolved.

The highly successful mission ended due to ground fog at landing site a day later than planned on runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.