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Most of the Shuttle missions pre-ISS launched to ~28 degrees, due to the latitude of Kennedy Space Center. However, several of the early missions launched to higher inclinations:

Some later missions also launched to high inclinations, although this may be due to their scientific payloads, most notably Spacelab:

So what motivated the choice of high-inclination orbits on these missions? For the Spacelab missions, was that the deciding factor in launching to 57 degrees?

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For the early test flights, it was to increase the chance of making it to the abort landing site at Rota, Spain (~36.6 deg latitude).

STS-9 included earth observation objectives, hence the high inclination to increase what was overflown.

The other flights you list were for payload objectives: 41G, deploying the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, for example.

Now I must look for references :)

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer! Once you add some references, I'll accept. $\endgroup$ – DylanSp Mar 1 '17 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ I'd love to find some Flight Design documents from those early missions, or at least some requirement definition documents. No luck yet. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 1 '17 at 22:55

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