SMM Satellite Repair

In April 1984, the space shuttle Challenger mission STS-41C conducted the first in-space repair of a satellite.

Space Shuttle Challenger crew repairing the SMM satellite
Space Shuttle Challenger crew repairing the SMM satellite.

Astronauts retrieved the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM) satellite from low Earth orbit and brought it into the shuttle bay where it was repaired by Mission Specialists George Nelson and James van Hoften. They also made repairs to some onboard instrumentation including the SMM Coronagraph/ Polarimeter. The SMM mission was designed to study solar activity and determine its formation and consequences. The SMM Coronagraph/Polarimeter design was led by the High Altitude Observatory / NCAR in Boulder, Colorado. It observed over 1500 solar eruptions, providing new information on Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). Observations ended in November 1989 when the SMM spacecraft orbit decayed and the satellite burned up in the atmosphere.

Written by Joan Burkepile