In 1984, Challenger astronauts completed the first in-space satellite repair.
Shuttle astronauts George Nelson and James van Hoften used the Remote Manipulator System robot arm to retrieve the malfunctioning Solar Max astronomy satellite, fix it and send it back into orbit. The Solar Maximum Mission had been launched Feb. 14, 1980. It was having trouble with its altitude-control system, and the electronics in the coronagraph instrument were malfunctioning. The refurbished satellite continued to observe the solar-activity cycle for another five years, before it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and went down in flames Dec. 2, 1989.
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