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Rare! List Of Space Shuttle Missions Canceled And/Or
Remanifested As A Result Of The Challenger Accident

Launch of Space Shuttle Challenger

Written and Edited by Cliff Lethbridge

The following is a rarely seen list of Space Shuttle missions that were intended to follow STS-51L. It was originally released by NASA in November, 1985. Of particular interest are the number of military and commercial missions planned, and the large number of missions planned.

It is interesting to compare this list to the list of missions that actually flew, as many of these previously planned missions did. Other missions, including "Journalist In Space", for example, were completely abandoned.

It is also interesting to note that the cryptic Space Shuttle mission numbering system enacted after STS-9 and employing a set of numbers and letters would have continued after STS-51L, and was ultimately replaced by a chronological (STS-26, STS-27, STS-28, etc.) system.

The cryptic numbering system was originally intended to designate the scheduled launch year, the scheduled launch site (1 for the Kennedy Space Center or 2 for Vandenberg Air Force Base) and the scheduled chronological order of each mission according to the Space Shuttle mission manifest.

Specifically, STS-51L designated the following:

STS = Space Transportation System,

5 = the 5th year of the Space Shuttle program, the first year of which was 1981. In the case of STS-51L, the mission was targeted for 1985, the fifth calendar year of the Space Shuttle program,


1 = Kennedy Space Center launch site,

L = the 12th Space Shuttle mission manifested by NASA for flight in 1985.

This cryptic numbering system proved to be confusing to the public, and the numbers and letters often did not reflect the year or flight sequence of the actual mission. For example, STS-51L was not actually the 12th Space Shuttle mission of 1985, it was the second Space Shuttle mission of 1986.

The chronological numbering system introduced after STS-51L not only alleviated the relative confusion of the previous numbering system, it also greatly aided the public in keeping track of the large number of safe Space Shuttle flights that have followed the Challenger tragedy. Of course, the consecutive numbering system can prove just as confusing because the actual flight order of missions rarely matches the mission numbers as manifested.

STS-61E -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: March 6, 1986

Target Landing Date: March 15, 1986

Assigned Crew:

Jon A. McBride, Commander
Richard N. Richards, Pilot
Robert A.R. Parker, Mission Specialist
David C. Leetsma, Mission Specialist
Jeffrey A. Hoffman, Mission Specialist
Samuel T. Durrance, Payload Specialist
Ronald A. Parise, Payload Specialist

Primary Payload: ASTRO-1

 

STS-62A -- Discovery

Target Launch Date: March 20, 1986

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew:

Robert L. Crippen, Commander
Guy S. Gardner, Pilot
Dale A. Gardner, Mission Specialist
Jerry L. Ross, Mission Specialist
Richard M. Mullane, Mission Specialist
Edward C. Aldridge, Jr., Payload Specialist
Bret Watterson, Payload Specialist

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

Note: STS-62A was scheduled to have been the first Space Shuttle
mission launched from SLC-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

 

STS-61F -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: May 15, 1986

Target Landing Date: May 19, 1986

Assigned Crew:

Frederick H. Hauck, Commander
Roy D. Bridges, Pilot
David C. Hilmers, Mission Specialist
John M. Lounge, Mission Specialist

Primary Payload: Ulysses

 

STS-61G -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: May 20, 1986

Target Landing Date: May 24, 1986

Assigned Crew:

David M. Walker, Commander
Ronald J. Grabe, Pilot
Norman E. Thagard, Mission Specialist
James D. Van Hoften, Mission Specialist

Primary Payload: Galileo

 

STS-61H -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: June 24, 1986

Target Landing Date: July 1, 1986

Assigned Crew:

Michael L. Coats, Commander
John E. Blaha, Pilot
Anna L. Fisher, Mission Specialist
James F. Buchli, Mission Specialist
Robert C. Springer, Mission Specialist
Pratiwi Sudarmono, Payload Specialist, Indonesia
Nigel Wood, Payload Specialist

Primary Payloads: WESTAR VI-S, PALAPA B-3, SKYNET-4A

 

STS-61M -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: July 22, 1986

Target Landing Date: July 27, 1986

Assigned Crew:

Loren J. Shriver, Commander
Bryan D. O'Connor, Pilot
Sally K. Ride, Mission Specialist
William F. Fisher, Mission Specialist
Mark C. Lee, Mission Specialist
Robert Wood, Payload Specialist

Primary Payloads: EOS-1, TDRS-4

 

STS-61J -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: August 18, 1986

Target Landing Date: August 23, 1986

Assigned Crew:

John W. Young, Commander
Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Pilot
Kathryn Sullivan, Mission Specialist
Steven Hawley, Mission Specialist
Bruce McCandless, Mission Specialist

Primary Payload: Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

 

STS-61N -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: September 4, 1986

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

 

STS-61I -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: September 27, 1986

Target Landing Date: October 1, 1986

Assigned Crew:

Donald E. Williams, Commander
Michael J. Smith, Pilot
James P. Bagian, Mission Specialist
Bonnie J. Dunbar, Mission Specialist
Manley L. "Sonny" Carter, Mission Specialist
Indian Payload Specialist, Not Announced
Journalist In Space, Not Announced

Primary Payloads: LDEF-1 (Retrieval), INSAT 1-C

 

STS-62B -- Discovery

Target Launch Date: September 29, 1986

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

Note: September 29, 1986 targeted launch date was for planning purposes only.
Discovery could not have been launched while another Space Shuttle (STS-61I) was in orbit.

 

STS-61K -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: October 27, 1986

Target Landing Date: November 3, 1986

Assigned Crew:

Vance D. Brand, Commander
S. David Griggs, Pilot
Robert L. Stewart, Mission Specialist
Owen K. Garriott, Mission Specialist
Claude Nicollier, Mission Specialist
Michael Lampton, Payload Specialist
Byron K. Lichtenberg, Payload Specialist

Primary Payload: EOM-1/2

 

STS-61L -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: November 6, 1986

Target Landing Date: November 13, 1986

Assigned Crew:

John H. Konrad, Payload Specialist
All Other Crew Members Not Announced

Primary Payloads: MSL-3, GSTAR-III, SYNCOM IV-5

 

STS-71B -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: December 6, 1986

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

 

STS-71A -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: January 12, 1987

Target Landing Date: January 19, 1987

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: ASTRO-2, one DOD Payload

 

STS-71C -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: January 27, 1987

Target Landing Date: February 3, 1987

Assigned Crew:

Peter Longhurst, Payload Specialist
All Other Crew Members Not Announced

Primary Payload: SHEAL-1, ASC-2, SKYNET-4B, SPARTAN-2

 

STS-71D -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: February 16, 1987

Target Landing Date: February 23, 1987

Assigned Crew:

Robert Wood, Payload Specialist
All Other Crew Members Not Announced

Primary Payloads: EOS-2, TDRS-3

 

STS-71E -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: March 16, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: SLS-1

 

STS-72A -- Discovery

Target Launch Date: March 18, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: SRL-2, PL OPPTY

Note: March 18, 1987 targeted launch date was for planning purposes only.
Discovery could not have been launched while another Space Shuttle (STS-71E) was in orbit.

 

STS-71F -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: March 24, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: MSL-5, two DOD Payloads

 

STS-71G -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: April 14, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: MSL-4, SSBUV-1, EOIM-III, HS 376-R, one DOD Payload

 

STS-71H -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: May 18, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

 

STS-71I -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: May 27, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: IML-1

 

STS-71J -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: June 9, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: LDEF-2 (Deployment)

 

STS-71K -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: July 15, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: MSL-7, INTELSAT VI-1, one DOD Payload

 

STS-71L -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: August 4, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: MSL-6, SSBUV-2, SPARTAN-3, two DOD Payloads

 

STS-71M -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: August 18, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: ASTRO-3, CRRES

 

STS-71N -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: September 17, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

 

STS-71O -- Columbia (note: STS-71 is followed by letter "O")

Target Launch Date: September 28, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: SUNLAB-1, ROSAT

 

STS-81A -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: October 21, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

 

STS-81B -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: November 9, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: MSL-8, SPARTAN 205, STC DBS-A, RCA 4001

 

STS-81C -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: November 16, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: SSBUV-3, SBS-6, PL OPPTY, one DOD Payload

 

STS-81D -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: December 22, 1987

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: GALAXY KU-1, two DOD Payloads

 

STS-81E -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: January 25, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

 

STS-81F -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: February 2, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: EOM-3, STC DBS-B, one DOD Payload

 

STS-81G -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: February 23, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: SPACELAB J

 

STS-81H -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: March 24, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: MSL-9, SPARTAN 206, EURECA, one DOD Payload

 

STS-82A -- Discovery

Target Launch Date: April 1, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

 

STS-81I -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: April 6, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: VRM

 

STS-81J -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: May 4, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

 

STS-81K -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: June 8, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: SSBUV-4, GRO, one DOD Payload

 

STS-81L -- Columbia

Target Launch Date: June 14, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: SPARTAN 211, MSL-10, PL OPPTY, one DOD Payload

 

STS-82B -- Discovery

Target Launch Date: July 15, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payloads: COBE, PL OPPTY

 

STS-81M -- Challenger

Target Launch Date: July 20, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: SLS-2

 

STS-81N -- Atlantis

Target Launch Date: August 10, 1988

Target Landing Date: Not Announced

Assigned Crew: Not Announced

Primary Payload: Department of Defense (DOD) Payload

STS-81N was the last mission included in the November, 1985 Space Shuttle launch manifest.

It is interesting to note that STS-26, the first Space Shuttle mission after the Challenger tragedy, was launched on September 29, 1988. This was one month after the last scheduled Space Shuttle mission included in the November, 1985 Space Shuttle launch manifest.

Return to Challenger Index


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