STS-42 was a NASA Space Shuttle Discovery mission with the Spacelab module. Liftoff was originally scheduled for 8:45 EST (13:45 UTC) on January 22, 1992, but the launch was delayed due to weather constraints. Discovery successfully lifted off an hour later at 9:52:33 EST (14:52:33 UTC).[1] The main goal of the mission was to study the effects of microgravity on a variety of organisms. The shuttle landed at 8:07:17 PST (16:07:17 UTC) on January 30, 1992, on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California.[1] STS-42 was the first of two flights in 1992 of Discovery, the second of which occurred during STS-53, which launched on December 2, 1992. The mission was also the last mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery to have a seven-member crew until STS-82, which was launched on February 11, 1997.

STS-42 view of payload bay.jpg
Spacelab Module LM2 in Discovery's payload bay, serving as the International Microgravity Laboratory (IML).
NamesSpace Transportation System-45
Mission typeMicrogravity research
COSPAR ID1992-002A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.21846
Mission duration8 days, 1 hour, 14 minutes, 44 seconds
Distance travelled4,701,140 km (2,921,150 mi)
Orbits completed129
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace Shuttle Discovery
Launch mass110,400 kg (243,400 lb)
Landing mass98,924 kg (218,090 lb) [1]
Payload mass13,066 kg (28,806 lb)
Crew size7
Start of mission
Launch dateJanuary 22, 1992, 14:52:33 UTC
RocketSpace Shuttle Discovery
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39A
ContractorRockwell International
End of mission
Landing dateJanuary 30, 1992, 16:07:17 UTC
Landing siteEdwards Air Force Base,
Runway 22
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude291 km (181 mi)
Apogee altitude307 km (191 mi)
Period90.50 minutes
STS-42 mission patch
Stephen S. Oswald, Roberta Bondar, Norman Thagard, Ronald J. Grabe, David C. Hilmers, Ulf Merbold, William F. Readdy
← STS-44 (44)
STS-45 (46) →


Position Astronaut
Commander   Ronald J. Grabe
Third spaceflight
Pilot   Stephen S. Oswald
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1   Norman Thagard
Fourth spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2   William F. Readdy
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 3   David C. Hilmers
Fourth and last spaceflight
Payload Specialist 1   Roberta Bondar, CSA
Only spaceflight
Payload Specialist 2   Ulf Merbold, ESA
Second spaceflight

Crew seating arrangementsEdit

Seat[2] Launch Landing  
Seats 1–4 are on the Flight Deck. Seats 5–7 are on the Middeck.
S1 Grabe Grabe
S2 Oswald Oswald
S3 Thagard Hilmers
S4 Readdy Readdy
S5 Hilmers Thagard
S6 Bondar Bondar
S7 Merbold Merbold

Crew notesEdit

The crew of STS-42 included West Germany's first astronaut, Ulf D. Merbold, who was making his second spaceflight, and Canada's first female astronaut, Roberta L. Bondar. In order to allow around-the-clock monitoring of experiments, the astronauts were divided into a red team and a blue team. Manley Lanier "Sonny" Carter Jr., was originally assigned to fly as mission specialist 3 for this mission, but died 7 months prior the launch in a plane crash. David Hilmers was then chosen to replace him.

Mission highlightsEdit

Discovery lifts off at the start of STS-42.

STS-42 was launched on January 22, 1992, 9:52:33 a.m. EST. The launch was delayed by one hour due to weather constraints. The launch weight was 243,396 lb (110,403 kg).

Discovery carried into orbit the International Microgravity Laboratory-1 (IML-1), a pressurized crewed Spacelab module, to explore in depth the complex effects of weightlessness on living organisms and materials processing. The international crew, divided into Red and Blue teams, conducted experiments on the human nervous system's adaptation to low gravity and the effects of microgravity on other life forms such as shrimp eggs, lentil seedlings, fruit fly eggs and bacteria. Low gravity materials processing experiments included crystal growth from a variety of substances such as enzymes, mercury iodine and a virus. Other payloads included 10 Get Away Special (GAS) canisters, a number of middeck payloads, two Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiments, and an Australian developed ultraviolet telescope Endeavour.[3] Middeck payloads included Gelation of SOLS: Applied Microgravity Research (GOSAMR), Investigations into Polymer Membrane Processing (IPMP) and the Radiation Monitoring Experiment (RME-III).

The mission landed on January 30, 1992, 8:07:17 a.m. PST, Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California, after being extended by a day for continued scientific experimentation. The rollout distance was 9,811 ft (2,990 m). The orbiter returned to Kennedy Space Center on February 16, 1992. The landing weight was 218,016 lb (98,890 kg).

Mission insigniaEdit

The four stars in the lower blue field and two stars in the upper blue field of the insignia symbolize the flight's numerical designation in the Space Transportation System's mission sequence. The single gold star above the horizon on the right is in honor of astronaut Manley Lanier "Sonny" Carter Jr., who was killed in the crash of Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 2311 in Brunswick, Georgia while on a commercial airplane traveling for NASA. Carter was originally assigned as a mission specialist on STS-42 at the time of his death.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "STS-42" (PDF). NASA. September 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2022.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "STS-42". Spacefacts. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  3. ^ "Endeavour". Retrieved July 22, 2019.

External linksEdit