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Mission insignia
Mission statistics
Mission name STS-36
Space shuttle Atlantis
Launch pad 39-A
Launch date February 28, 1990, 2:50:22 a.m. EST
Landing March 4, 1990, 10:08:44 a.m. PST
Mission duration 4/10:18:22
Number of orbits 72
Orbital altitude 132 nautical miles (245 km)
Orbital inclination 62.0 degrees
Distance traveled 1,920,000 mi, 3,089,280 km (approx.)
Crew photo
STS-36 crew.jpg
Related missions
Previous mission Next mission
STS-32 STS-32 STS-31 STS-31

STS-36 was a space shuttle mission by NASA using the Space Shuttle Atlantis. It was the 34th mission, and carried a payload for the U.S. Department of Defense (believed to have been a Misty reconnaissance satellite). It was the sixth flight for Atlantis, the fourth night launch of the program, and the second night launch since Shuttle flights resumed in 1988.



Position Astronaut
Commander John O. Creighton
Second spaceflight
Pilot John H. Casper
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 Pierre J. Thuot
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 David C. Hilmers
Third spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3 Richard M. Mullane
Third spaceflight

Mission parameters

Mission highlights

The sixth shuttle launch dedicated entirely to the Department of Defense, STS-36's payload remains classified. STS-36 launched a single satellite, 1990-019B (USA-53), also described as AFP-731. Other objects (1990-019C-G) have appeared in orbit since its deployment.

It has been reported that USA-53 was an Advanced KH-11 photo-reconnaissance satellite that used an all-digital imaging system to return pictures. The KH-11 series is a digital imaging photo- reconnaissance satellite with both visual and infrared sensors. USA-53, nicknamed "Misty", was tracked briefly by amateur satellite observers in October and November 1990. [1]

Launch occurred February 28, 1990, at 2:50:22 a.m. EST. Launch was set for February 22, and was postponed to February 23, February 24, and February 25 due to illness of the crew commander and weather conditions. This was the first time since Apollo 13 in 1970 that a manned space mission was affected by illness of a crew member. The launch attempt set for February 25 was scrubbed due to malfunction of a range safety computer. The February 26 attempt was scrubbed due to weather conditions (Note: the external tank was loaded only for the launch attempts on February 25 and 26, and the actual launch on February 28). The successful launch February 28 was set for a classified window lying within a launch period extending from 12 midnight to 4 a.m. EST. Launch Weight: Classified.

Space Shuttle Atlantis is prepared for launch on Mission STS-36 on January 25, 1990
Liftoff on February 28, 1990.

The launch trajectory was unique to this flight, and allowed the mission to reach an orbital inclination of 62°, the deployment orbit of its payload, while the normal maximum inclination for a shuttle flight is 57°. This so-called "dog-leg" trajectory saw Atlantis fly downrange on a normal launch azimuth, and then maneuver to a higher launch azimuth once out over the water. Although the maneuver resulted in a reduction of vehicle performance, it was the only way to reach the required deployment orbit from the Kennedy Space Center (originally, the flight had been slated to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, until the shuttle launch facilities there were mothballed in 1989). Flight rules that prohibit overflight of land were suspended, with the trajectory taking the vehicle over or near Cape Hatterras, Cape Cod, and parts of Canada. The payload was considered to be of importance to national security, hence the suspension of normal flight rules.

Atlantis landed at 10:08 a.m. PST on Sunday, March 4, 1990 at Edwards Air Force Base in California on lakebed runway 23 ending the STS-36 Department of Defense mission. The total distance the orbiter rolled out was 7,900 feet (2.41 km). Atlantis was towed to the Mate Demate Device by about 3 p.m. PST.

About 62 dings in the tiles were counted by the debris team. Tile engineers reported that only one tile may have to be replaced. The brakes and tires performed nominally. Drops of hydraulic fluid were observed in the right main landing gear wheel well, the liquid hydrogen 17-inch (430 mm) disconnect cavity and possibly around two of the main engines.

Mission insignia

The thirty-six stars on the insignia symbolize the flight's numerical designation in the Space Transportation System's mission sequence.

See also


External links



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