November 6, 1985: Space Shuttle Lands on Dry Lake

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

Space Shuttle Challenger landed on lakebed runway 17L following a mission (STS-61-A) devoted to materials processing experiments. This mission carried eight astronauts, the largest crew in history, and was the first to be largely financed and operated by another nation—West Germany..

STS-61-A (also known as D-1) was the 22nd mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program. It was a scientific Spacelab mission, funded and directed by West Germany – hence the non-NASA designation of D-1 (for Deutschland-1). STS-61-A was the ninth and last successful flight of Space Shuttle Challenger. STS-61-A holds the current record for the largest crew - eight people - aboard any single spacecraft for the entire period from launch to landing.  The mission carried the NASA/ESA Spacelab module into orbit with 76 scientific experiments on board, and was declared a success. Payload operations were controlled from the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, West Germany, instead of from the regular NASA control centers.

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