Our Spaceflight Heritage: The first flight of Discovery – STS-41D
On August 30, 1984, space shuttle Discovery launched at 8:42 a.m. EDT (1242 p.m.GMT) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-41D crew was led by Commander Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr. and Pilot Michael L. Coats. The crew also included Judith A. Resnik, Steven A. Hawley, and Richard M. Mullane as Mission Specialists and Charles D. Walker as the Payload Specialists. The goal of the mission was to deploy the SBS-D, Syncom IV-2, and Telstar 3-C satellites. STS-41D was the first flight to deploy three satellites on a single mission.
Discovery‘s primary cargo consisted of three commercial communications satellites: SBS-D for Satellite Business Systems, Telstar 3C for Telesat of Canada, and Syncom IV-2, or Leasat-2, a Hughes-built satellite leased to the US Navy. Leasat-2 was the first large communications satellite designed specifically to be deployed from the space shuttle. All three satellites were deployed successfully and became operational.
Other payloads included on this flight were the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES), sponsored by McDonnell Douglas which used a student experiment to study how crystal grows in the microgravity environment. The Radiation Monitoring Equipment (RME); Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiment; IMAX camera, which marked its second flight; and an Air Force experiment, Cloud Logic to Optimize Use of Defense Systems (CLOUDS).
Another first for Discovery and her crew was the first flight of a non-NASA employee crewman and an industrial payload specialist (Walker).
Discovery landed on September 5 at 8:38 a.m. PDT (1238 GMT) at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The mission lasted for 6 days and 56 minutes.
Heather Smith's fascination for space exploration – started at the tender age of twelve while she was on a sixth-grade field trip in Kenner, Louisiana, walking through a mock-up of the International Space Station and seeing the “space potty” (her terminology has progressed considerably since that time) – she realized at this point that her future lay in the stars. Smith has come to realize that very few people have noticed how much spaceflight technology has improved their lives. She has since dedicated herself to correcting this problem. Inspired by such classic literature as Anne Frank’s Diary, she has honed her writing skills and has signed on as The Spaceflight Group’s coordinator for the organization’s social media efforts.