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|
- 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.
- Sunrise and sunset times obtained from U.S. Naval Observatory tables.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Thanks to everyone at NASAspaceflight.com (especially DaveS, Ben, Ben E, and dsl) for helping assemble the final list of night launches.