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Early morning space shuttle launch

On Jan. 12, 1986, the space shuttle Columbia launched at 6:55 a.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center on the STS-61C mission. It was the first spaceflight for now-NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, who was a pilot on the STS-61C crew along with Mission Commander Robert L. Gibson, Mission Specialists Franklin R. Chang-Díaz, Steven A. Hawley and George D. Nelson and Payload Specialists Robert J. Cenker of RCA and U.S. Rep. (now Senator) Bill Nelson.

During the six-day flight, crew members deployed the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. The mission was accomplished in 96 orbits of Earth, ending with a successful night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on Jan. 18, 1986.

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