'To Come to California': 35 Years Since STS-1 Inaugurated the Space Shuttle Program (Part 2)

After its Thermal Protection System (TPS) successfully bore the brunt of the fiery return to Earth, Columbia performed an unpowered, “deadstick” landing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on 14 April 1981. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty-five years have now passed since the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle Program. On the […]

'You Don't Go Fly When You Got Debts': 35 Years Since STS-1 Inaugurated the Space Shuttle Program (Part 1)

Young (left) and Crippen at their respective flight deck stations during training. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

STS-1’s launch in April 1981, some 35 years ago this month, began a new era of spaceflight. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-five years ago, on 12 April 1981, the first winged orbital space vehicle carrying human pilots was launched from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Aboard Columbia for STS-1—the long-awaited maiden […]

'Broken at the Boom': 20 Years Since STS-75 (Part 2)

sts75tether

Spectacular view of Columbia’s payload bay and aft compartment, during STS-75. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Two decades ago, Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed into orbit carrying one of the most unusual experiments on record: the reflight of the Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1R). It was intended to demonstrate the “electrodynamics” of a conducting tether […]

'A Little Adrenaline Rush': 20 Years Since STS-75 (Part 1)

The seven-man STS-75 included four veterans of the first Tethered Satellite System (TSS) mission, as well as marking the first shuttle flight to include as many as three European astronauts. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

The STS-75 crew pose for their official portrait. Seated are Pilot Scott “Doc” Horowitz, Commander Andy Allen, and Payload Commander Franklin Chang-Diaz, with Maurizo Cheli, Umberto Guidoni, Jeff Hoffman, and Claude Nicollier standing. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed into orbit carrying one of the most unusual experiments on record: […]

City of Titusville Astronaut Memorial Ceremony Wraps Up Somber Week of Anniversaries, Remembrances

A single red carnation and, most touchingly, an apple decorate Christa McAuliffe's plaque at Titusville's Sand Point Park Saturday morning. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

A single red carnation and, most touchingly, an apple decorate Christa McAuliffe’s plaque at Titusville’s Sand Point Park Saturday morning. McAuliffe was the first Teacher in Space, but perished aboard Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

The dates marked Jan. 27, 28, and Feb. 1 are downcast days in U.S. spaceflight […]

On Challenger's 30th Anniversary, NASA Reflects On its Fallen Heroes

Floral tributes offer a touch of color against the drab gray and black of the Space Mirror Memorial and the day itself. Photo Credit: Talia Landman/AmericaSpace

For NASA, the fourth and fifth weeks of each year have always carried a somber mood of reflection and resolve, in which the glories of past successes—including Voyager […]

The Real Mission Impossible: 30 Years Since Mission 61C (Part 2)

Columbia swoops like a bird of prey into Edwards Air Force Base on 18 January 1986, just ten days ahead of the Challenger tragedy. Commander Robert "Hoot" Gibson would later refer to this mission as "The End of Innocence" ... for after Challenger the Shuttle program would never be the same again. Photo Credit: NASA

Robert “Hoot” Gibson (right) and George “Pinky” Nelson lead the 61C crew out of the Operations & Checkout Building for launch. Following is crewmate Steve Hawley. Photo Credit: NASA

On Mission 61C, launched 30 years ago next week, on 12 January 1986, Space Shuttle Columbia was making her first orbital flight in over two […]

The Real Mission Impossible: 30 Years Since Mission 61C (Part 1)

"Mission Impossible" finally launches as Columbia roars into the darkened Florida skies on 12 January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA

“Mission Impossible” finally launches as Columbia roars into the darkened Florida skies on 12 January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA

Though three decades have passed, January 1986 has become entrenched in humanity’s popular consciousness as one of the darkest months in space history, for on its 28th day the crew of Challenger were lost in […]

'You Need to Hear All the Notes': 25 Years Since STS-35 (Part 2)

Stunning perspective of Namibia, as viewed by the STS-35 crew, 25 years ago, in December 1990. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Had history smiled with more favor, ASTRO-1 might have taken place almost three decades ago, but the space shuttle’s first mission totally dedicated to astrophysics was repeatedly delayed in the aftermath of […]

'Like Night Flying in an Airplane': 25 Years Since STS-35 (Part 1)

But for the tragic loss of Challenger, the ASTRO-1 mission might have flown just five weeks later, in March 1986. As circumstances transpired, it would be more than four years before the mission rose into orbit. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century ago, this week, four powerful ultraviolet and X-ray “eyes” peered […]