[ Main | News | Countdown | Search | FAQ | Glossary ]

Galileo Launch - October 18, 1989

Written by Ron Baalke
October 18, 1989


sts34_7_s.jpg sts34_8_s.jpg

The Launch of Atlantis on STS-34 Carrying the Galileo Spacecraft

Space Shuttle Atlantis, with the Galileo spacecraft aboard, was launched from Kennedy Space Center at 12:53 p.m. EDT on 18 October 1989 at the beginning of STS-34 mission.


Ellen Baker and Shannon Lucid Prepare for the Deployment of Galileo


Shannon Lucid Points at Galileo in the Cargo Bay

Once in orbit the IUS (Intertial Upper State) went through a predeployment checkout. A "Mission Phase 6" error was reported when attempting to lock in the radio frequency (RF) link to Sunnyvale, California, through the PI (Payload Integrator), but this was determined to be static on the RF link. [After the mission, the STS-34 astronauts visited JPL in December 1989. I asked Shannon Lucid what this "Mission Phase 6" error was. She just laughed and said "that wasn't supposed to happen"].


Galileo on the Tilt Table in the Cargo Bay of Atlantis

The tilt table carrying Galileo was then raised up to a 58 degree angle, and Galileo was deployed at a time of 6 hours 21 minutes 23.397 seconds after launch, on the 6th orbit around the Earth.


Galileo Floating Away from Alantis with IUS Attached

The tilt table was then lowered back down to its initial -6 degrees. At about 15 minutes after deployment Atlantis executed a separation burn. Live pictures were then transmitted to Houston control showing the payload bay area and the inside of the shuttle. At 7 hours 21 minutes after launch the first stage IUS burn was executed and verified by Sunnyvale. The second stage IUS burn occurred 5 minutes later to place Galileo on an Earth escape velocity of 7.1 miles/sec. The VTR playback of the Galileo deployment was then transmitted to Houston.


STS-34 Crew Portrait In Space
From left to right are Donald Williams, Ellen Baker, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Shannon Lucid, and Michael J. McCulley

At 7 hours 46 minutes after launch, the IUS went into a first stage spinoff to deploy the RTG and science booms. The second stage IUS spinoff at a rate of 2.9 revolutions/minute for the separation of the IUS from Galileo soon followed. At this point telemetry data were transmitted and received by DSN (Deep Space Network).


Autographs of the STS-34 Crew
From top to bottom: Ellen Baker, Shannon Lucid, Mike McCully, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Don Williams

Galileo flew by Venus in February 1990 on its first leg of its journey, and arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995.


Return to Project Galileo Homepage