Saturday, January 24, 2009

Living History: January 24, 1985, 1st All-Military Space Shuttle Mission

Col. Loren Shriver was the pilot of STS-51C Discovery, the first all-military space launch mission. (NASA courtesy photo.)

Living History:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2009 -- On Jan. 24, 1985, Col. Loren J. Shriver led the four-man crew of STS-51C Discovery in his first mission on the first all-military space shuttle mission. Launching from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., STS-51C deployed a modified Inertial Upper Stage vehicle for the Department of Defense. Landing after slightly more than three days on orbit, the mission lasted 73 hours, 33 minutes and 27 seconds.

Shriver was born Sept. 23, 1944, in Jefferson, Iowa. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy in 1967, and a Master of Science degree in Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1968. He was commissioned in 1967 upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

From 1969 to 1973, he served as a T-38 academic instructor pilot at Vance Air Force Base, Okla. He completed F-4 combat crew training at Homestead AFB, Fla., in 1973, and was then assigned to an overseas tour in Thailand until October 1974. In 1975, he attended the U. S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, Calif., and upon completion of this training was assigned to the 6512th Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, and participated in the Air Force development test and evaluation of the T-38 lead-in fighter. In 1976, Shriver began serving as a test pilot for the F-15 Joint Test Force at Edwards.

He has flown in 30 different types of single and multi-engine civilian and military fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft, has logged over 6,200 hours in jet aircraft, and holds commercial pilot and private glider ratings.

Shriver was selected as an astronaut by NASA in January 1978. In September of 1982, he was selected as pilot for the first Department of Defense mission, STS-10. That mission was later canceled. A veteran of three space flights, Shriver flew on STS-51C in 1985, STS-31 in 1990, and STS-46 in 1992, and has logged over 386 hours in space. In October 1992, he was assigned as Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office.

On his second mission, Shriver commanded a crew of five. STS-31 launched on April 24, 1990, from the Kennedy Space Center. During the 5-day mission, crew members deployed the Hubble Space Telescope and conducted a variety of mid-deck experiments involving the study of protein crystal growth, polymer membrane processing, and the effects of weightlessness and magnetic fields on an ion arc. They also operated a variety of cameras, including both the IMAX in-cabin and cargo bay cameras for Earth observations from their then record-setting altitude of 333 nautical miles. Mission duration was 121 hours 16 minutes 6 seconds. Following 76 orbits of the Earth, STS-31 Discovery landed at Edwards AFB on April 29, 1990.

As spacecraft commander of STS-46, Shriver and his crew launched from the Kennedy Space Center on July 31, 1992. STS-46 was an 8-day mission, during which crew members deployed the European Retrievable Carrier satellite (an ESA-sponsored free-flying science platform), and conducted the first Tethered Satellite System test flight (a joint project between NASA and the Italian Space Agency). Mission duration was 191 hours 16 minutes 7 seconds. After completing 126 orbits of the Earth, Space Shuttle Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center Aug. 8, 1992, having traveled 3.35 million miles.

Shriver's accomplishments have earned him many notable awards. He has received the United States Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Space Flight Medal (three times), the American Astronautical Society 1990 Flight Achievement Award, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Haley Space Flight Award for 1990.

(Report from a NASA news release.)

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