15 November 1988: At 0300 UTC, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics launched the space shuttle Buran from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. This was an unmanned flight, with all the systems preprogrammed. The launch vehicle was an Energiya rocket.
The Energiya was powered by four RD-170 and four RD-0120 rocket engines. The RD-170 burned kerosene and liquid oxygen. Its sea level thrust was 1,697,300 pounds (7,549.967 kilonewtons). The RD-0120 burned liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Its thrust was 341,000 pounds (1,516.844 kilonewtons). Total thrust of all eight engines was 8,153,200 pounds (36,267.240 kilonewtons).
5 September 1984: Space Shuttle Discovery, OV-103, completed its first space flight, STS-41-D, when it landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, at 6:37 a.m. PDT (13:37:54 UTC), 5 September 1984. It had completed 97 orbits of the Earth. The total duration of its flight was 6 days, 56 minutes, 4 seconds.
The purpose of the mission was to place three communications satellites into orbit, and to deploy an experimental solar panel array. Various other experiments were also carried out.
The Mission Commander was Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr., making his second space flight. Shuttle Pilot Michael L. Coats was on his first. Three Mission Specialists, Richard M. Mullane, Steven A. Hawley, Judith A. Resnick, and Payload Specialist Charles D. Walker, were all on their first space flight.
A highlight of this mission was the onboard filming by the crew of footage for the IMAX film, The Dream Is Alive.
Discovery is the space shuttle fleet leader, having made 39 orbital flights, more than any other shuttle.
Mission Specialist Judith Arlene Resnick was a crew member of shuttle mission STS-51-L. She was killed when Challenger was destroyed shortly after launch, 28 January 1986.