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Solving Space: STS-3 landing

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After a successful eight-day mission, the space shuttle Columbia (STS-3) made history as the first to end on New Mexico soil when it landed at the Northrup strip on White Sands Missile Range. Solve Space by unscrambling this image and note the two T-38 chase planes escorting it in, learn more about STS-3, and discover how to tour a space shuttle replica at Space Center Houston!

Learn More About It

  • Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-3) launched March 22, 1982 at 11:00:00 a.m. EST.
  • STS-3 Crew included Commander Jack R. Lousma and Pilot C. Gordon Fullerton. Back-up crew members for this mission were Thomas K. Mattingly II and Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr.
  • The launch was delayed one hour due to failure of a heater on the nitrogen gas ground support line.
  • The mission’s objectives were: demonstrate safe re-launch and safe return of the orbiter and crew and verify the combined performance of the entire shuttle vehicle – orbiter, solid rocket boosters and external tank.
  • The STS-3 flight was the longest of the Shuttle test flights.
  • NASA’s Office of Space Sciences-1 (OSS-1) payload were carried in the Shuttle’s payload bay; they were designed to obtain data on the near-Earth space environment, including contamination (gases, dust, etc.) introduced into space by the orbiter itself.
  • STS-3 crew also experimented on plant growth; they tested the ability of the Plant Growth Unit (PGU) to support plant growth in space, to determine the effect of microgravity on lignin synthesis and to observe the overall development of young seedlings exposed to the conditions of space flight.
  • During the STS-3 mission, the crew experienced space sickness, a malfunctioning toilet, thermostat difficulty, and unexplained static that interfered with crew sleep.

Discover Firsts

After the Shuttle’s landing was delayed by one day because of high winds at the White Sands landing site, rains flooded the dry lakebed at the primary landing site in California. That’s why the Space Shuttle landing was diverted to White Sands, New Mexico. Touchdown finally occurred at White Sands after a 194-hour mission.

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