'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 […]

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 […]

'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 […]

'Monster Flight': 25 Years Since Launch of Hubble (Part 1)

The moment of deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), as seen from the IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC). Photo Credit: NASA

“If there were ever two missions that were completely opposite in terms of the public attention that was given to them,” astronaut Loren Shriver once said, “it would be my first and […]

'Vide Mater, Sine Manibus': 30 Years Since Shuttle Mission 51D (Part 2)

Spacewalkers Jeff Hoffman and Dave Griggs work to outfit a makeshift fly swatter onto the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm, in a fruitless attempt to activate Syncom 4-3’s deploy switch. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, next week, the crew of Mission 51D watched open-mouthed as a powerful communications satellite which they had […]

'It's Gonna Be Great': 30 Years Since Shuttle Mission 51D (Part 1)

Spacewalkers Jeff Hoffman and Dave Griggs work to outfit a makeshift fly swatter onto the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm, in a fruitless attempt to activate Syncom 4-3’s deploy switch. Photo Credit: NASA

None of the 135 missions flown by NASA’s five-strong fleet of shuttle orbiters between April 1981 and July 2011 could […]

'Instant Daylight': 20 Years Since the Record-Setting Mission of STS-67 (Part 1)

Commander Steve Oswald leads the STS-67 crew out of the Operations and Checkout Building on the late evening of 1 March 1995, bound for a liftoff in the small hours of the following morning. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, this week, seven astronauts, including four professional astronomers, were midway through what turned out […]

The Flight That Wasn't: 30 Years Since the Unflown Mission 51E (Part 2)

In its third incarnation, the mission of Karol “Bo” Bobko finally takes flight on 12 April 1985. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Three decades ago, the shuttle program appeared bulletproof. In 1984, astronauts embarked on untethered EVAs, deployed satellites and performed scientific research, retrieved and repaired the crippled Solar Max observatory, and salvaged […]

The Flight That Wasn't: 30 Years Since the Unflown Mission 51E (Part 1)

The “core” NASA crew of Mission 41F, scheduled for launch on 9 August 1984 for a seven-day flight. From left to right are Commander Karol “Bo” Bobko, Pilot Don Williams and Mission Specialists Dave Griggs, Rhea Seddon and Jeff Hoffman. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, this week, the shuttle program […]

'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 […]