Following the fourth orbital test flight of Columbia President Reagan declared the Space Shuttle operational on 4 July 1982 The shuttle formally entered service with a variety of satelliterelated missions

The fifth flight of Columbia, STS-5 in November 1982, was the first to carry a commercial satellite onboard

- a mission that was seen as vital to establishing the Shuttle as a commercial launch vehicle. In addition to the flight crew, STS-5 therefore became the first mission to carry "mission specialists"

- highly trained non-pilot astronauts. The payload of two communications satellites deployed perfectly, and the only major problem on the mission was a spacesuit flaw that prevented the first spacewalk of the shuttle programme.

Nearly five months later, Challenger took to the skies on her maiden flight, STS-6. This mission saw Story Musgrave and Donald Peterson test NASA's new spacesuits on tethered spacewalks, but its main aim was to launch TDRS-A, the first of the Shuttle's Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (see p.201). Deployment was flawless, but a problem in the Inertial Upper Stage (the powerful rocket intended to push the satellite into its final orbit), left it stranded. Controllers on the ground eventually found a way

flight support----

station holds MMU in place in Shuttle cargo bay foot restraints on support station help astronaut to don MMU

to edge the satellite towards its intended final orbit, but the time this took - coupled with delays to heavy satellite launches while the I US problem was solved - put the TDRS programme behind schedule.

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