Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Space Shuttles - Space Station
  Nearly forgotten STS (classified) missions

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Nearly forgotten STS (classified) missions
kyra
Member

Posts: 507
From: Louisville CO US
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 01-22-2006 10:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To this day we have seen little about STS-51C, 51-J, 27, 28, 33, 36, and 38 due to the cargo they were carrying (DoD).

Given these flights were 15 to 20 plus years ago wouldn't they be declassified by now? Has anyone done any FOIA requests to see if these missions have been returned to the light of day? Most anything deployed by them is probably obsolete or failed by now.

Given the interesting discussions on photographing Area 51 from space, and the Soviet jamming threads, collectSPACE could start a "Military Space: For your eyes only..." section. MOL, early Salyut, Vandenberg and other topics would fit neatly here.

I'm patriotic and all, and wouldn't want things to be released before their time, but there is always a time for the truth, good, bad or indifferent to be revealed. Truth and questioning is also a necessary ingredient to an informed democracy. The taxpayers have shelled out many billions for these missions, we could at least get a few untold space adventures after 15 plus years, or so one would think.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-22-2006 10:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mike Mullane, who flew on STS-27 and STS-36, writes in his new memoirs that the details of both of these flight's payloads are still classified. It makes for interesting reading as he tries to describe his spaceflight experiences without committing treason.

Interestingly, for both flights Mullane was awarded a medal for his service to the country, an honor that until recently was also classified. The physical awards had to remain inside a vault at the Pentagon.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 01-22-2006 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember when I first got into spacemodeling (flying model rockets) back in the 80's I naively asked Boeing for anything on the X-20 Dyna-Soar, intending to build a balsa wood and cardboard replica... to which they replied that stuff was still classified.

I also remember that a certain someone, who shall remain nameless, got to meet with Robert Gibson in Cooperstown in 1989, where he was born, when Gibson was doing a round of visits post-STS-27R. Gibson apologized that he couldn't talk much about the mission, saying that it was a Defense Dept. flight, and this certain someone remembered thinking (thankfully, not aloud), "Well, gee, Aviation Leak, er, Aviation Week said you carried such-and-such a satellite."

That certain someone may have been a spy, though, since everyone thought that person was a professional journalist, all because that person had a Minolta T-210 camera, while others had Instamatics or Disc cameras or whatever the pocket cameras were in vogue that day ....

Ben
Member

Posts: 1843
From: Daytona Beach, FL
Registered: May 2000

posted 01-22-2006 02:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The reason they are still classified is likely becase they are still using the same series of satellites. For example, STS-27 is believed to be the first of the now five Lacrosse satellites; the fifth was launched last year.

kyra
Member

Posts: 507
From: Louisville CO US
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 01-22-2006 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See the story of the medal in the safe in Space Shuttle: The First Twenty Years. p.66 has a story from Hoot Gibson and the STS-27 medal. The medal and citation with very generic wording have been declassified.

See also in this book p. 235 for a picture from STS-36. You can plainly see the visual acuity experiment and Hilmers and Casper with Secret checklists on their laps with orange colored bands at the top and bottom of the page ! How did Air & Space Smithsonian get their hands on that one ?

This era of the program I remember vividly from Countdown Magazine(ed. Dixon Otto). He always had a funny spin on these missions. The "Outlaw" as he called himself in satirical pieces. I missed the last year or two of this gem, and wonder if it had anything to do with this that he sold the publishing company, and supposedly went off to Vermont to ski and write romance novels...kind of like the late 80's version of Newhart

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 01-22-2006 05:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A certain someone also has a copy of the booklet containing STS-39's Flight Day 3 uplinks (which would have been neat to have Bluford and Hieb sign; it keeps on getting buried.) None of the info in it, though, has any SECRET or other classifications on it.

Ashy
Member

Posts: 154
From: Preston, England
Registered: Mar 2004

posted 01-25-2006 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ashy   Click Here to Email Ashy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the subject of the DoD missions, I'm sure I read somewhere, (and at the moment I cannot find the actual article/piece) that there have been classified EVA's conducted on some of these missions and that they have been omitted from the EVA chronology?

Has anyone heard of this or have I just imagined reading it...I seem to be suffering with 'memory outages' at the moment!

Ben
Member

Posts: 1843
From: Daytona Beach, FL
Registered: May 2000

posted 01-25-2006 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The mystery EVA in question was that on STS-27. They (particulary Hoot Gibson) acknowledged openly that after deploying the satellite, and then discovering it had a problem, 'Atlantis reapproached the satellite, made successful repairs, and departed again.'

The repairs part implies a spacewalk to work on the satellite, at least to most.

Jerry Ross and Bill Shepard are the two believed to have conducted it.

I'm sure we will find out in coming years. STS-27 was believed to have deployed the first Lacrosse, so whenever the program ends I would imagine.

heng44
Member

Posts: 2564
From: Netherlands
Registered: Nov 2001

posted 01-25-2006 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know that shortly before or after STS-27 a new portrait of Jerry Ross was released, showing him in EVA suit with (I believe) the generic EVA emblem. At that time I wrote in my notes that there may have been an EVA on STS-27.

lb206
Member

Posts: 48
From:
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 01-25-2006 04:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lb206   Click Here to Email lb206     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thing i always wondered about STS-27 is did it carry the classified payload intended for STS-62A the first vanderberg mission. Only reason i even thought of this is both crews had 3 of the same astronauts.

OV-105
Member

Posts: 589
From: Ridgecrest, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 01-25-2006 06:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a pic of Jerry Ross in an EVA suit with the STS-27 patch. It is a regular patch not the beta type that they have on shuttle EVA flights. Now if there was an EVA on that flight your guess is as good as mine.

As for the return to flight crews after Challenger STS-26 was almost the crew of 61-F STS-27 was going to be the next DOD flight so I could see that crew would get the next DOD flight. A lot of the other crews were kept together also with a few changes due to astronauts leaving the office. The Astro-1 (61-E/STS-35), 61-H/STS-29, 61-G/STS-30, Hubble (61-J/STS-31) everyone except John Young.

After those flights the crews were not to set in stone yet so that took care of 88 and 89's flights and some of 90's.

I too was also a Countdown subscriber and miss the magazine. When we did not have the internet it was the best way to stay up to date on the shuttle. I still have all of the issues from 85 till the end, just missing some 84's and 83's. I do have all of the STS Mission Profiles which was also pretty good in the 90's.

Ben
Member

Posts: 1843
From: Daytona Beach, FL
Registered: May 2000

posted 01-25-2006 08:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, STS-27 Lacrosse 1 is believed to have been 62A's payload.

OV-105
Member

Posts: 589
From: Ridgecrest, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 01-26-2006 11:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All this talk of the "good old days" of the shuttle made me break out the old Countdown's and look through them again. In the January 1986 the Air Force released the payload for STS-62A it was to have been "Teal Ruby", experimental infrared detection system and "Cirris" and infrared sensor. This looks almost like the what flew as STS-39. I wish they would have flown out of Vandenberg. Even in September of 1986 they were saying that the shuttle would fly out of Vandenberg in 1992. They were even going to fly Columbia to Vandenberg in October of 1986 for a mock countdown and fit check, which was latter cancelled.

lb206
Member

Posts: 48
From:
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 01-27-2006 05:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lb206   Click Here to Email lb206     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember many years ago seeing a picture of Enterprise on the pad at Vanderberg i assume for some kind of testing of the facilities equipment. Someone even told me it was later used as an Air Force recruiting poster. I would love to get a copy of that picture if anyone knows where one can be found. I do remember there was also an airforce security guard in the foregroungd of the picture.

edmk5000
New Member

Posts:
From:
Registered:

posted 01-27-2006 07:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for edmk5000   Click Here to Email edmk5000     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are some really good pictures and mission patches of the Enterprise at Vandenberg.

I also believe that Discovery was to be "based" at Vandenberg to specialize in "blue" DoD missions.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-04-2010 01:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Space Review: A lighter shade of black: the (non) mystery of STS-51J
Now, as the final chapter of the story of the Space Shuttle is being written, it is worthwhile to revisit the program’s early years, and the less-examined history of the United States military’s use of the shuttle. When the shuttle was first approved, the US Air Force and the secret National Reconnaissance Office planned on making extensive use of its capabilities. But soon after the shuttle began flying, military and intelligence leaders started to have second thoughts and ultimately only ten military shuttle missions were flown. Several other missions were officially civilian, but conducted work that was important to the military. Overall, about ten percent of nearly 140 shuttle missions had some kind of military component. Amateur observers have been able to piece together what they suspect are the identities and missions of the classified shuttle missions...

Of the eight classified shuttle missions, only one of them has been substantially declassified. This was STS-51J, the launch of Atlantis on October 3, 1985, on a four-day mission to deploy two military communications satellites.

garymilgrom
Member

Posts: 1571
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 01-04-2010 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by edmk5000:
There are some really good pictures and mission patches of the Enterprise at Vandenberg.
The Vandenberg photos seem to show something other than a crawler/transporter for moving the stack. What was the plan for this launch site? Thank you.

ilbasso
Member

Posts: 1494
From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 01-04-2010 02:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe it was erected on the pad - the assembly building walls roll back.

Tom
Member

Posts: 1275
From: New York
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 01-04-2010 05:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was one of the (very) few people that were at the press site for the first Shuttle DOD flight - STS-51C.

Being the first time that the NASA PAO were not allowed to answer (most) questions, it seemed a bit odd to say the least.

I remember the launch window for Discovery being "between 1:15 and 4:15 p.m."

In order to make it interesting, members of the press started a pool, with 36 of us picking the time that we thought the launch would take place. One person chose 2:50 p.m.

The irony of that first military launch was that the sky was so clear that day at T-0. The shuttle was visible from the site longer than any previous shuttle launch!

heng44
Member

Posts: 2564
From: Netherlands
Registered: Nov 2001

posted 01-05-2010 12:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the internal NASA servers there is a good series of photos available of the satellite deploy on mission STS-51J. These have obviously been declassified.

issman1
Member

Posts: 888
From: UK
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 01-05-2010 05:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the subject of STS-62A, I've always believed the ATLAS and SRL shuttle missions would have been better suited to launch out of SLC-6 that LC-39. That's why the Pentagon uses Vandenberg, because a polar orbit provides complete global coverage.

kyra
Member

Posts: 507
From: Louisville CO US
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 01-10-2010 11:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by heng44:
On the internal NASA servers there is a good series of photos available of the satellite deploy on mission STS-51J. These have obviously been declassified.

Thanks, Ed. I had not checked for a while whether they had released more from 51J.

Byeman
New Member

Posts:
From:
Registered:

posted 04-09-2010 09:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Byeman   Click Here to Email Byeman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ben:
Yes, STS-27 Lacrosse 1 is believed to have been 62A's payload.

No, 62A payloads were AFP-675 (CIRRIS) and AFP-888 Teal Ruby.

STS-27's payload was to fly on 62-B

Jerry L Ross
Member

Posts: 22
From: Friendswood, TX, USA
Registered: Sep 2012

posted 01-08-2013 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jerry L Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by OV-105:
I wish they would have flown out of Vandenberg.
I wish we had flown out of Vandernberg too. Bob Crippen and I have agreed that was one of the biggest disappointments of our careers.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 01-08-2013 09:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Funny enough, Jerry, of the seven missions you've flown, not one of them was on Discovery, which was to have been used on Vandenberg flights!

One interesting tidbit in Joseph Carretto's Military Man in Space Essential to National Strategy paper is his assertion that in 1986, he spent many hours in a "simulated weightless environment" evaluating repair techniques for the HST.

Taken at face value, this seems odd. Would NASA have flown a manned spaceflight engineer on a Hubble mission, or was it a case of he happened to be available for that particular exercise?

Or perhaps, was he evaluating repair techniques for a HST-sized payload? One that might have shared common electronics boxes and other equipment?

Jim Behling
Member

Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 01-08-2013 10:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
Would NASA have flown a manned spaceflight engineer on a Hubble mission,
Never.
quote:
Or perhaps, was he evaluating repair techniques for a HST-sized payload? One that might have shared common electronics boxes and other equipment?
No, the DOD was already off the shuttle.

The thesis is almost 20 years old and the author's views dated. The old guard of the stick and throttle Air Force is being replace by the terminal and keypad chairborne rangers. UAV's and a numbered Air Force dealing with cyberspace are more inline with the remote operations of space assets.

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2012 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement