Space Shuttle: Atlantis
Launch Pad: 39B
Launch Weight: 256,031 pounds
Launched: July 31, 1992, 9:56:48 a.m. EDT
Landing Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: August 8, 1992, 9:11:51 a.m. EDT
Landing Weight: 208,806 pounds
Rollout Distance: 10,860 feet
Rollout Time: 66 seconds
Mission Duration: 7 days, 23 hours, 15 minutes, 3 seconds
Orbit Altitude: 230 nautical miles
Orbit Inclination: 28.45 degrees
Miles Traveled: 3.3 million
Image above: STS-46 Crew photo with Commander Loren J. Shriver, Pilot Andrew M. Allen, Mission Specialists Jeffrey A. Hoffman, Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, Claude Nicollier, Marsha S. Ivins and Payload Specialist Franco Malerba. Image Credit: NASA
The primary objective was deployment of the European Space Agency's European Retrievable Carrier (EURECA) and operation of the joint NASA/Italian Space Agency Tethered Satellite System (TSS). The mission was extended one day to complete the science objectives. EURECA deployed one day later than scheduled because of problem with its data handling system. After deployment, the spacecraft's thrusters were fired to boost EURECA to its planned operating altitude of about 310 statute miles (499 kilometers). However, the thruster firing was cut to six minutes instead of the planned 24 minutes because of unexpected attitude data from EURECA. The problem resolved and EURECA was boosted to operational orbit on the sixth day of the mission. The payload was to be retrieved on STS-57 in 1993.
TSS deployment was also delayed one day because of EURECA. During TSS deployment, the satellite reached a maximum distance of only 840 feet (256 meters) from orbiter instead of planned 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) because of a jammed tether line. After numerous attempts over several days to free the tether, TSS operations were curtailed and satellite was stowed for return to Earth.
Secondary payloads were: Evaluation of Oxygen Integration with Materials/Thermal Management Processes (EOIM-III/TEMP 2A-3); Consortium for Materials Development in Space Complex Autonomous Payload (CONCAP II and CONCAP III); IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC); Limited Duration Space Environment Candidate Materials Exposure (LDCE); Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS); Pituitary Growth Hormone Cell Function (PHCF); and Ultraviolet Plume Instrument (UVPI).
STS046-12-009 (31 July-8 Aug. 1992) --- The seven crew members for the STS-46 mission pose for the traditional in-flight portrait onboard the Earth-orbiting space shuttle Atlantis. In the rear are, left to right, astronauts Loren J. Shriver, commander; Andrew M. Allen, pilot; and Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, mission specialist. In front are, left to right, Swiss scientist Claude Nicollier, mission specialist representing the European Space Agency (ESA); astronaut Jeffrey A. Hoffman, payload commander; astronaut Marsha S. Ivins, mission specialist; and Franco Malerba, payload specialist representing the Italian Space Agency (ASI).