Space Shuttle: Atlantis
Launch Pad: 39A
Launch Weight: classified
Launched: November 15, 1990, 6:48:15 p.m. EST
Landing Site: Shuttle Landing Facility, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: November 20, 1990, 4:42:46 p.m. EST
Landing Weight: 191,091 pounds
Rollout Distance: 9,0003 feet
Rollout Time: 56 seconds
Mission Duration: 4 days, 21 hours, 54 minutes, 31 seconds
Orbit Altitude: 142 nautical miles
Orbit Inclination: 28.5 degrees
Miles Traveled: 2 million
Image above: STS-38 Crew photo with Commander Richard O. Covey, Pilot Frank L. Culbertson Jr., Mission Specialists Robert C. Springer, Carl J. Meade and Charles D. Gemar. Image Credit: NASA
The launch was originally scheduled for July 1990. However, a liquid hydrogen leak found on the orbiter Columbia during the STS-35 countdown prompted three precautionary tanking tests on Atlantis at the pad on June 29, July 13 and July 25. Tests confirmed a hydrogen fuel leak on external tank side of external tank/orbiter 17-inch quick disconnect umbilical. This could not be repaired at the pad and Atlantis rolled back to the VAB on August 9, was demated and transferred to the OPF. During rollback, the vehicle parked outside the VAB about a day while COLUMBIA/STS-35 stack was transferred to the pad for launch. Outside, Atlantis suffered minor hail damage to tiles during a thunderstorm. After repairs were made in the OPF, Atlantis was transferred to the VAB for mating on October 2. During hoisting operations, a platform beam that should have been removed from aft compartment fell and caused minor damage which was repaired. Vehicle rolled out to Pad A on October 12. Fourth mini-tanking test performed October 24, with no excessive hydrogen or oxygen leakage detected. At Flight Readiness Review, launch date was set for November 9. Launch was reset for November 15 due to payload problems. Liftoff occurred during a classified launch window lying within a launch period extending from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. EST, November 15, 1990.
Seventh mission dedicated to Department of Defense.
The official STS-38 crew portrait includes the following 5 astronauts (front left to right): Frank L. Culbertson, pilot; and Richard O. Covey, commander. Standing (left to right) are mission specialists (MS) Charles D. (Sam) Gemar, (MS-3), Robert C. Springer, (MS-1), and Carl J. Meade, (MS-2). The seventh mission dedicated to the Department of Defense (DOD), the STS-38 crew launched aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on November 15, 1990 at 6:48:15 pm (EST).
The Space Shuttle Columbia (left), slated for mission STS-35, is rolled past the Space Shuttle Atlantis on its way to Pad 39A. Atlantis, slated for mission STS-38, is parked in front of bay three of the Vehicle Assembly Building following its rollback from Pad 39A for repairs to the liquid hydrogen lines. First motion of Atlantis from the pad was at 10:14 p.m. August 8. It arrived at the VAB at 4 a.m. August 9. First motion of Coumbia leaving the VAB for the pad was at 5:47 a.m. Columbia is due to arrive at the pad at noon August 9. Once Columbia is hard down at the pad, Atlantis will be moved into the VAB for destack operations. When Columbia reaches the pad, its payload bay doors will be opened and servicing of the ASTRO-1 payload will begin. Also, portions of the Shuttle interface verification test not completed in the VAB will be conducted.
The aft bulkhead of Atlantis' payload bay is seen in this photograph from mission STS-38. The absence of the support equipment for the IUS confirms that the payload of this classified flight was not one of the Magnum satellites.
Frams von STS-38 Atlantis Mission NASA-Video: