SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: Brandenstein was pilot on STS-8, his first flight, which launched at night from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on August 30, 1983. This was the third flight for the Orbiter Challenger and the first mission with a night launch and night landing. During the mission crew members deployed the Indian National Satellite (INSAT-1B): operated the Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) with the Payload Flight Test Article (PFTA): operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES) with live cell samples; conducted medical measurements to understand biophysiological effects on space flight; and activated various earth resources and space science experiments along with four "Getaway Special" canisters. STS-8 completed 98 orbits of the Earth in 145 hours before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on September 3, 1983.
On his second mission (June 17-24, 1985). Brandenstein commanded the crew of STS-51G aboard the Orbiter Discovery. During this seven-day mission crew members deployed communications satellites for Mexico (Morelos), the Arab League (Arabsat), and the United States (AT&T Telstar). They used the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) to deploy and later retrieve the SPARTAN satellite which performed 17 hours of x-ray astronomy experiments while separated from the Space Shuttle. In addition, the crew activated the Automated Directional Solidification Furnace (ADSF), six "Getaway Specials", participated in biomedical experiments, and conducted a laser tracking experiment as part of the Strategic Defense Initiative. The mission was accomplished in 112 Earth orbits in approximately 170 hours.
Brandenstein then commanded the crew of STS-32 (January 9-20, 1990). In the longest Shuttle mission to date, crew members aboard the Orbiter Columbia successfully deployed the Syncom IV-F5 satellite, and retrieved the 21,400-pound Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) using the RMS. They also operated a variety of middeck experiments including the Microgravity Disturbance Experiment (MDE) using the Fluids Experiment Apparatus (FEA), Protein Crystal Growth (PCG), American Flight Echocardiograph (AFE), Latitude/Longitude Locator (L3), Mesoscale Lightning Experiment (MLE), Characterization of Neurospora Circadian Rhythms (CNCR), and the IMAX camera. Additionally, numerous medical test objectives, including in-flight Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP), in-flight aerobic exercise and muscle performance were conducted to evaluate human adaptation to extended duration missions. Following 173 orbits of the Earth in 261 hours, the mission ended with a night landing in California.
Brandenstein also commanded the crew of STS-49 (May 7-16, 1992) on the maiden flight of the new Space Shuttle Endeavour. During this mission, the crew conducted the initial test flight of Endeavour, performed a record four EVA's (space walks) to retrieve, repair and deploy the International Telecommunications Satellite (INTELSAT) and to demonstrate and evaluate numerous EVA tasks to be used for the assembly of Space Station Freedom. Additionally, a variety of medical, scientific and operational tests were conducted throughout the mission. STS-49 logged 213 hours in space and 141 Earth orbits prior to landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, where the crew conducted the first test of the Endeavour's drag chute.
With the completion of his fourth flight, Brandenstein logged over 789 hours in space.