STS-8 was a Space Shuttle mission carried out in August-September 1983; it conducted the first night launch and night landing of the program, and flew the first African-American astronaut. The mission was a notable success, achieving all of its planned research objectives, but was marred by the subsequent discovery that a solid-fuel rocket booster had almost malfunctioned catastrophically during the launch. It was the eighth Shuttle mission and the third flight of the shuttle Challenger.
The primary payload was INSAT-1B, an Indian communications and weather observation satellite, which was released by the orbiter and boosted into a geostationary orbit. The secondary payload, replacing a delayed NASA communications satellite, was a four-tonne dummy payload, intended to test the use of the remote manipulator system. Scientific experiments on board included the environmental testing of new hardware and materials designed for future spacecraft, the study of biological materials in electric fields under microgravity, and research into space adaptation syndrome - "space sickness". The flight also served as shakedown testing for the previously launched TDRS-1 satellite, which would be required to support the upcoming STS-9 mission.
Launch date: August 30, 1983 06:32:00 UTC
Landing: September 5, 1983 07:40:43 UTC