'Big Mental Switch': Remembering Shuttle Endeavour's Maiden Voyage (Part 2)

With the possible exception of Columbia and the very first space shuttle mission, few orbiters had as dramatic and exciting a maiden voyage as Endeavour. On STS-49, she provided a reliable stage for the longest EVA in history and the first three-man EVA in history. Despite the trials and tribulations of the flight, she […]

Cristoforetti Set for Endurance Record, as Expedition 43 Return Reportedly Delayed to Mid-June

If Soyuz TMA-15M’s return date moves to the 11-13 June timeframe, Samantha Cristoforetti will establish a new record for the longest single space mission ever undertaken by a woman. Photo Credit: NASA

Only days before their scheduled 13-14 May return to Earth, it is understood that Soyuz TMA-15M crew members—and the “core” of the […]

'Where We Either Succeeded or Failed': Remembering Shuttle Endeavour's Maiden Voyage (Part 1)

In the first, and so far only, three-person EVA, astronauts Rick Hieb, Tom Akers and Pierre Thuot manhandle Intelsat 603 into Endeavour’s payload bay for the attachment of a new rocket motor. Photo Credit: NASA

“Ready. Ready. Grab!”

The words of Rick Hieb echoed through the silent Mission Control Center (MCC) at the Johnson […]

First GPS III Satellite Fully Integrated, Being Readied for Testing

An artist’s rendering of Lockheed Martin’s GPS III satellite in operation. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

The development of the most advanced Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite ever built reached an important milestone within the last month. Lockheed Martin announced that the system module of its first next-generation GPS III satellite (Space Vehicle One, or […]

SpaceX Prepares for Latest in Long History of Critical Pad Abort Tests (Part 1)

The LJ-1B Little Joe mission launches from Wallops on 21 January 1960, carrying “Miss Sam”, the second rhesus passenger, on a critical Pad Abort Test for Project Mercury. Photo Credit: NASA

Following the recent successes of the CRS-6 Dragon launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) on 14 April and last week’s flight of […]

'The Lord Protected Grandpa': 30 Years Since Mission 51B (Part 2)

During the majority of the seven-day mission, Challenger operated in a gravity gradient orientation, with her vertical stabilizer directed Earthward and her starboard wing pointing in the direction of travel. Image Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, this week, a seven-man crew with a combined age of 340 years rocketed into orbit […]

'Education Can Take You Anywhere': Teacher-Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger Turns 40 Today

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is pictured close to the window in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module, aboard the International Space Station (ISS), during STS-131 in April 2010. Photo Credit: NASA

More than five years have now passed since Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger—geologist, astronomer, cross-country runner, and the first Space Camp alumnus ever to journey beyond Earth’s atmosphere and into […]

A Long Wait for Space: 30 Years Since Mission 51B (Part 1)

Challenger roars into orbit on 29 April 1985. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, this week, Challenger was circling the Earth on the first dedicated Spacelab science flight of the shuttle era. For seven days, the crew of Mission 51B—Commander Bob Overmyer, Pilot Fred Gregory, Mission Specialists Don Lind, Norm Thagard, and […]

Rest In Pieces: MESSENGER Ends Orbital Operations, Impacts Mercury's Surface

The MESSENGER spacecraft, depicted in this artist’s rendering, began studying Mercury in 2011. Today, its mission ended with its impact on the far side of the planet. Image Credit: NASA

Here’s MESSENGER by the numbers: Years since launching: 10+; Years in Mercury’s orbit: Four; Number of orbits: 4,105; Size of its impact crater: Estimated […]

'I Went Flying, All Right!' Remembering Challenger Pilot Mike Smith on His 70th Birthday

Mike Smith, the pilot of Challenger’s final mission. Photo Credit: NASA

When we think of “astronauts,” we think of the hundreds of heroes who have voyaged beyond the sensible atmosphere, into low-Earth orbit, and beyond, into cislunar space, lunar orbit, and even the dusty surface of the Moon itself. However, it is a sad […]