Colonel Gary Eugene Payton, USAF, (born June 20, 1948) is an American former astronaut. Payton flew on the STS-51-C mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in January 1985 which launched and returned to land at the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. STS-51C was the first dedicated Space Shuttle Department of Defense mission. Payton traveled over 1.2 million miles in 48 Earth orbits, and logged more than 73 hours in space.
STS-51-C was the fifteenth flight of the shuttle program and third for the Space Shuttle Discovery. It was the first space shuttle mission dedicated to the United States Department of Defense and therefore, the mission details remain classified.Low Earth Orbit
The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air service branch of the United States Armed Forces, and is one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. Originally created on 1 August 1907, as a part of the United States Army Signal Corps, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the United States Armed Forces in 1947 with the enactment of the National Security Act of 1947.