Payload Blog

First Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery

Space shuttle Discovery launched on its inaugural flight 35 years ago. On August 30, 1984, it lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, carrying six crew members to space: Commander Henry Hartsfield, Pilot Michael Coats, Mission Specialists Judith Resnick, Steven Hawley, Richard Mullane and Payload Specialist Charles Walker. The crew deployed three communications satellites to orbit during the mission.

Space shuttle Discovery on August 30, 1984 launching through Kennedy Space Center airspace on its maiden voyage.
This photo of space shuttle Discovery was taken on August 30, 1984 by astronaut John Young from the air in the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA).

Discovery went on to complete 39 successful missions and spend 365 days in space total, surpassing the other orbiters in NASA’s fleet of space shuttles. The orbiter has an esteemed list of accomplishments, such as being the first to dock with the International Space Station and serving as the Return-to-Flight orbiter following both the Challenger and Columbia tragedies. It was also the orbiter that carried the Hubble Space Telescope to space and completed two of the five servicing missions on the telescope.

Its final mission, STS-133, was February 24, 2011, after 27 years of launches. Today, you can see Discovery at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Discovery is one of three orbiters remaining from NASA’s fleet. Space shuttle Endeavour found its home in Los Angeles, and space shuttle Atlantis is here at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex! Inside our Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction, you can see the real space shuttle Atlantis up close and learn more about NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program.


Categories: NASA History