Today in History – December 2nd and the Space Shuttle

2 December – For Space Shuttle history, December 2nd is a red-letter day.

  • 12/2/1988 – Launch: Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-27 at 09:30:34 EST. Mission highlights: Third classified DoD mission; Lacrosse 1 deployment.
  • 12/2/1990 – Launch: Space Shuttle Columbia STS-35 at 1:49:01 am EST. Mission highlights: Use of ASTRO-1 observatory.
  • 12/2/1992 – Launch: Space Shuttle Discovery STS-53 at 13:24:00 UTC. Mission highlights: Partially classified 10th and final DoD mission. Likely deployment of SDS2 satellite.
  • 12/2/1993 – Launch: Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-61 at 10:53 am EDT. Mission highlights: Hubble Space Telescope servicing.

Little known fact about the numbering of the STS

The U.S. Space Shuttle program was officially referred to as the Space Transportation System (STS). Specific shuttle missions were therefore designated with the prefix “STS”.[2] Initially, the launches were given sequential numbers indicating order of launch, such as STS-7.

Subsequent to the Apollo 13 mishap, due to NASA Administrator James M. Beggs’s triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) and consequent unwillingness to number a forthcoming flight as STS-13,[7][8][9][10] beginning in 1984, each mission was assigned a code, such as STS-41-B, with the first digit (or pair of digits for years 1990 and beyond) indicating the federal fiscal year offset into the program (so 41-B was scheduled for FY 1984, 51-A thru 51-L originally for FY 1985, and the third flight in FY 1995 would have been named 151-C), the second digit indicating the launch site (1 was Kennedy Space Center and 2 was Space Launch Complex (SLC). 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, although Vandenberg was never used), and the letter indicating scheduling sequence.[11]

These codes were assigned when the launches were initially scheduled and were not changed as missions were delayed or rescheduled.[6] The codes were adopted from STS-41-B through STS-51-L (although the highest code used was actually STS-61-C), and the sequential numbers were used internally at NASA on all processing paperwork.

After the Challenger disaster, NASA returned to using a sequential numbering system

Source: Wikipedia

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