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Name of Image: Neutral Buoyancy Simulator-Solar Max Testing
MIX #: 8334118
NIX #: 8334118 MSFC-8334118
Date of Image: 1983-04-01
Category: Around Marshall

Full Description: In February 1980, a satellite called Solar Maximum Mission Spacecraft, or Solar Max, was launched into Earth's orbit. Its primary objective was to provide a detailed study of solar flares, active regions on the Sun's surface, sunspots, and other solar activities. Additionally, it was to measure the total output of radiation from the Sun. Not much was known about solar activity at that time except for a slight knowledge of solar flares. After its launch, Solar Max fulfilled everyone's expectations. However, after a year in orbit, Solar Max's Altitude Control System malfunctioned, preventing the precise pointing of instruments at the Sun. NASA scientists were disappointed at the lost data, but not altogether dismayed because Solar Max had been designed for Space Shuttle retrievability enabling the repair of the satellite. On April 6, 1984, Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-41C), Commanded by astronaut Robert L. Crippen and piloted by Francis R. Scobee, launched on a historic voyage. This voyage initiated a series of firsts for NASA; the first satellite retrieval, the first service use of a new space system called the Marned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), the first in-orbit repair, the first use of the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), and the Space Shuttle Challenger's first space flight. The mission was successful in retrieving Solar Max. Mission Specialist Dr. George D. Nelson, using the MMU, left the orbiter's cargo bay and rendezvoused with Solar Max. After attaching himself to the satellite, he awaited the orbiter to maneuver itself nearby. Using the RMS, Solar Max was captured and docked in the cargo bay while Dr. Nelson replaced the altitude control system and the coronagraph/polarimeter electronics box. After the repairs were completed, Solar Max was redeposited in orbit with the assistance of the RMS. Prior to the April 1984 launch, countless man-hours were spent preparing for this mission. The crew of Challenger spent months at Marshall Space Flight Center's (MSFC) Neutral Buoyancy Simulator (NBS) practicing retrieval maneuvers, piloting the MMU, and training on equipment so they could make the needed repairs to Solar Max. Pictured are crew members training for repair tasks.
(MRPO) MRD/SPD Discipline(s): n/a
(MRPO) Subject Type: n/a
Keywords: Solar Max, Neutral Buoyancy Simulator, NBS, Challenger, STS-41C
MSFC Negative Number: 8334118
Reference Number: MSFC-75-SA-4105-2C
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