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Night Launches

Since the start of the shuttle program, there have been 36 night launches, totaling about one-fourth of the 131 shuttle missions to date (as of February 8, 2010).

For the complete list of all shuttle missions, see Shuttle Missions on the NASA web site.

Table of Night Launches

Here's a list of all the shuttle night launches to date. Given the small number of missions remaining in the shuttle program, this may end up being the final list.

Mission   Launch Date   Vehicle   Mission Page   Alternate Mission Page(s)

STS-8  August 30, 1983, 2:32:00 a.m. EDT  Challenger Link  Link
STS-41G October 5, 1984, 7:03:00 a.m. EDT  Challenger Link  Link
STS-61B November 26, 1985, 7:29:00 p.m. EST  Atlantis  Link  Link
STS-61C January 12, 1986, 6:55:00 a.m. EST  Columbia  Link  Link
STS-33  November 22, 1989, 7:23:30 p.m. EST  Discovery  Link  Link
STS-36  February 28, 1990, 2:50:22 a.m. EST  Atlantis  Link  Link
STS-38  November 15, 1990, 6:48:13 p.m. EST  Atlantis  Link  Link
STS-35  December 2, 1990, 1:49:01 a.m. EST  Columbia  Link  Link
STS-44  November 24, 1991, 6:44:00 p.m. EST  Atlantis  Link  Link
STS-56  April 8, 1993, 1:29:00 a.m. EDT  Discovery  Link  Link
STS-61  December 2, 1993 4:26 a.m. EST  Endeavour  Link  Link
STS-63  February 3, 1995, 12:22:04 a.m. EST  Discovery  Link  Link
STS-67  March 2, 1995, 1:38:34 a.m. EST  Endeavour  Link  Link
STS-72  January 11, 1996, 4:41:00 a.m. EST  Endeavour  Link  Link
STS-76  March 22, 1996, 3:13:04 a.m. EST  Atlantis  Link  Link
STS-79  September 16, 1996, 4:54:49 a.m. EDT  Atlantis  Link  Link
STS-81  January 12, 1997, 4:27:23 a.m. EST  Atlantis  Link  Link
STS-82  February 11, 1997 3:55:17 a.m. EST  Discovery  Link  Link
STS-84  May 15, 1997 4:07:48 a.m. EDT  Atlantis  Link  Link
STS-86  September 25, 1997, 10:34:19 p.m. EDT  Atlantis  Link  Link
STS-89  January 22, 1998, 9:48:15 p.m. EST  Endeavour  Link  Link
STS-88  December 4, 1998, 3:35:34.075 a.m. EST  Endeavour  Link  Link Link
STS-93  July 23, 1999, 12:31:00 a.m. EDT  Columbia  Link  Link Link
STS-103 December 19, 1999, 7:50:00 p.m. EST  Discovery  Link  Link Link
STS-101 May 19, 2000, 6:11:10 a.m. EDT  Atlantis  Link  Link Link
STS-92  October 11, 2000, 7:17 p.m. EDT  Discovery  Link  Link Link
STS-97  November 30, 2000, 10:06 p.m. EST  Endeavour  Link  Link Link
STS-104 July 12, 2001, 5:03:59 a.m. EDT  Atlantis  Link  Link Link
STS-109 March 1, 2002, 6:22 a.m. EST  Columbia  Link  Link Link
STS-113 November 23, 2002, 7:49:47.079 p.m. EST  Endeavour  Link  Link Link
STS-116 December 9, 2006, 8:47 p.m. EST  Discovery  Link Link Link Link
STS-123 March 11, 2008, 2:28 a.m. EDT  Endeavour  Link 
STS-126 November 14, 2008, 7:55 p.m. EST  Endeavour  Link 
STS-128 August 28, 2009, 11:59 p.m. EDT  Discovery  Link 
STS-130 February 8, 2010, 4:14 a.m. EST  Endeavour  Link 
STS-131 April 5, 2010, 6:21 a.m. EDT  Discovery  Link 

  1. NASA uses a "15 Minute Rule" to determine night launches and landings. By this rule, a launch or landing event is classified as a night event if it happens in the span of time that begins 15 minutes after local sunset and ends 15 minutes before local sunrise.
  2. Sunrise and sunset times obtained from U.S. Naval Observatory tables.
  3. Sunrise and sunset times are all listed as EST (Eastern Standard Time), as provided in the USNO tables. Some launch times are listed as EDT (Eastern Daylight Savings Time). To compare the two times, subtract one hour from the EDT to get the equivalent EST value, then compare.
  4. NASA's Shuttle Launch Archive incorrectly lists STS-65 and STS-77 as night launches. Examination of other sources shows these are actually day launches. Similarly, it classifies the following missions as day launches, when they should be classified as night launches: STS-61C, STS-44, STS-86 and STS-103. Examination of other sources shows these are actually night launches.
  5. STS-41G launched exactly 15 minutes before sunrise (truncating times to the whole minute). It's not clear how NASA classified this, but we decided to list it as a night launch.
  6. Some NASA launch photos look like nighttime when they really aren't, because they're shot at low exposure to capture detail in and around the bright rocket exhaust plumes. NASA engineers need this detail to judge the performance of the rockets and rocket motors. If these photos were shot at normal exposure, the plumes from the Solid Rocket Boosters would look solid white and wash out all detail. Shooting at low exposure darkens the whole picture, making the plume area more visible and the skies look like night.
  7. Thanks to everyone at NASAspaceflight.com (especially DaveS, Ben, Ben E, and dsl) for helping assemble the final list of night launches.