'The Most Complex So Far': What 2003 Might Have Been

Columbia roars into orbit for the 28th and final time on 16 January 2003. Eighty-two seconds into the ascent, a chunk of foam from her External Tank would spell disaster for the outcome of STS-107. Photo Credit: NASA

Twelve years ago, last weekend, Shuttle Columbia and the crew of STS-107—Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie […]

'Up Against a Wall': What 1986 Might Have Been

The infamous image, flashed around the world on 28 January 1986, immediately after Challenger’s tragic destruction. The disaster stalled the shuttle program for almost three years and all crews, including the other missions planned for 1986, were stood down. Photo Credit: NASA

On three occasions in NASA’s history, the dawn of February has brought […]

'Open-Ended': What 1967 Might Have Been

The Apollo 1 crew, pictured during training, would have embarked on an open-ended mission of up to 14 days in duration in February-March 1967. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Figuratively and literally, February is a gloomy month, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere—a four-week period of darkness, plunging temperatures, and poor weather, with the […]

Farthest-Flying SpaceX Payload Set for Sunday Night Launch (Part 1)

DSCOVR mission logo. Image Credit: NOAA/NASA/U.S. Air Force

Conceived in a dream by a former Vice President of the United States, hamstrung by a rapidly increasing price tag, disparagingly nicknamed “a multi-million-dollar screen saver,” grounded in the wake of a steadily shrinking shuttle flight schedule and the Columbia disaster and finally revived and given a […]

'Lock the Doors': Remembering Columbia's Final Return to Earth

As evidenced by the clock on the main screen at 14:15:05 GMT (9:15:05 a.m. EST), this view of a tense Mission Control was acquired a quarter of an hour after the first sign of trouble … and a minute ahead of Columbia’s expected landing. By now, everyone was aware that all hope was gone […]

'Fire in the Cockpit': Remembering the Sacrifice of Apollo 1

After the first cry from Roger Chaffee (left), even super-fit Ed White (center) was unable to even fully release the first bolt from the command module’s inner hatch before he was overcome by fumes. The most likely origin of the fire was somewhere beneath the seat of Gus Grissom (right). Photo Credit: NASA

Almost […]

'Man of Destiny': Astronaut Tom Jones Turns 60 Today

Tom Jones waves during his first career EVAs on STS-98, the mission which installed the U.S. Destiny laboratory onto the International Space Station (ISS) in February 2001. Photo Credit: NASA

Astronaut Tom Jones—a man who did, then didn’t, and then did again, embark on the hundredth spacewalk in U.S. history—turns 60 today (Thursday, 22 […]

'The Granddaddy of All Experiments': 25 Years Since the STS-32 Mission to Snatch LDEF (Part 2)

The 12-sided Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) was intended to spend less than a year in orbit, but ended up remaining for almost six years, traveling the equivalent distance from Earth to Saturn. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century ago, next week, the crew of Columbia embarked on the longest shuttle mission […]

'What You Saw Was What You Got': 25 Years Since the STS-32 Mission to Snatch LDEF (Part 1)

Twenty-five years ago, next week, the crew of Shuttle Columbia retrieved the giant Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF). The satellite’s orbit had degraded to such an extent that it was only weeks away from an uncontrolled re-entry. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years ago, next week, on 9 January 1990, the crew of Columbia rocketed […]

'What's Tab November?': The Independence Day Mission of STS-4 (Part 2)

Columbia roars into orbit on 27 June 1982, kicking off the STS-4 mission. Photo Credit: Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

More than three decades ago, on Independence Day (4 July) in 1982, Columbia triumphantly touched down at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., concluding the fourth shuttle mission. Aboard the reusable spacecraft were Commander Ken Mattingly and Pilot […]