Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics

The first ORFEUS Mission

The first ORFEUS mission was launched on September 12, 1993 at 7:45 am (EDT) with Shuttle Mission STS-51 (Discovery) for its flight to space. On the first day in space the main payload, the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS), was released. On the second day the ASTRO-SPAS satellite was released and captured again after 6 days. On September 22, Discovery landed at night at 3:56 am (EDT) at Kennedy Space Center.

The ASTRO-SPAS satellite as well as all instruments on board the satellite were controlled by a specially equipped control center (SPAS Operations Center - SPOC) operated at the Kennedy Space Center. Also the Echelle Spectrometer was operated by the Tübingen Team with its own ground control station.

Before the finally successful launch there were three launch attempts which had to be scrubbed:

The two spectrometers on board the ORFEUS telescope should be operated alternately. Therefore a movable mirror was mounted in the telecope (see page telescope). This mirror stuck during its second actuation, but luckily it stopped at a position, where an unobstructed observation with the Berkeley spectrometer still was possible. For this reason there exist no Echelle spectra from the first ORFEUS mission.


Wikipedia: STS-51
NASA Space Shuttle Archive: STS-51
Kennedy Space Center: STS-51
JSC image gallery STS-51
NASA STS-51 video highlights with comments of the astronauts