STS-49: Endeavour’s first flight

STS-49Space Shuttle Endeavour leaves Earth for the first time, carrying a crew of seven to orbit on the 47th shuttle mission. Over nearly nine days, three spacewalks are taken up with the tricky and dangerous task of capturing a four-and-a-half-ton communications satellite into Endeavour’s cargo bay to repair and relaunch it. (The satellite, Intelsat VI, had been stranded in the wrong orbit since its 1990 launch aboard a Titan rocket.) The record-setting spacewalks involved – each lasting over seven hours and marking the first time three astronauts have operated outside their vehicle – force NASA to cancel one of two experimental EVAs to test space station construction techniques. Endeavour’s first crew consists of Commander Daniel Brandenstein, pilot Kevin Chilton, and mission specialists Pierre Thuot, Kathryn Thornton, Richard Hieb, Thomas Akers and Bruce Melnick.