'Those Are Beautiful Shoes': Celebrating Independence Day in Space (Part 1)

On 4 July 1982, the crew of STS-4 became the first U.S. astronauts to spend Independence Day in space. It also marked the date of their spectacular return to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo Credit: NASA

On 4 July 1982, the crew of STS-4 became the first U.S. astronauts to spend Independence Day in space. It also marked the date of their spectacular return to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo Credit: NASA

On the morning of 4 July 1982, a rapidly moving, black and white speck appeared on the […]

'A Horrible Moment': 30 Years Since the Shuttle’s Mission for Britain and Indonesia (Part 2)

Discovery rockets into orbit on STS-29 in March 1989, carrying more than half of the original crew of Mission 61H. Photo Credit: NASA

Discovery rockets into orbit on STS-29 in March 1989, carrying more than half of the original crew of Mission 61H. Photo Credit: NASA

The beginning of the end of Mission 61H came on 28 January 1986, when Challenger and her crew were lost, just 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) […]

'Unless They Throw Me Out': 30 Years Since the Shuttle's Mission for Britain and Indonesia (Part 1)

The "core" NASA crew of the former Mission 61H, pictured during one of their post-Challenger extended simulations. From left to right are Mike Coats, John Blaha, Anna Fisher, Bob Springer and (standing) Jim Buchli. Photo Credit: NASA/Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

The “core” NASA crew of the former Mission 61H, pictured during one of their post-Challenger extended simulations. From left to right are Mike Coats, John Blaha, Anna Fisher, Bob Springer, and (standing) Jim Buchli. Photo Credit: NASA/Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century ago, Britain’s first astronaut—civilian chemist Helen Sharman—roared into orbit aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, […]

Sprint to the Finish: 30 Years Since the 'Death Star' Missions (Part 2)

The 61G crew, tasked with deploying Galileo. From left are Norm Thagard, Ron Grabe, Dave Walker and James 'Ox' van Hoften. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

By the time Galileo eventually left Earth in October 1989, it was boosted toward Jupiter by a less powerful Inertial Upper Stage (IUS). Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, this month—had the hands of fate showed greater kindness—two shuttles might have rocketed into orbit within days of each other to deliver a pair of […]

Willing to Compromise: 30 Years Since the 'Death Star' Missions (Part 1)

Artist's impression of the Galileo-Centaur deployment on Mission 61G in May 1986. The deployment of Ulysses, less than a week earlier, on Mission 61F would have been similar. Image Credit: NASA

The Centaur-G Prime, mounted in its Centaur Integrated Support Structure (CISS), is readied for launch in the Shuttle Payload Integration Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo Credit: NASA

When Challenger was lost in the skies of Cape Canaveral on 28 January 1986, it brought to an end the space shuttle’s “age of innocence” […]

The 'Floating Hills' of Pluto: Icebergs In a Frozen Nitrogen Sea

Icebergs on Pluto: the large blocks of water ice float in a "sea" of nitrogen ice and are thought to have broken off from the rugged and mountainous highlands. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Icebergs on Pluto: The large blocks of water ice float in a “sea” of nitrogen ice and are thought to have broken off from the rugged and mountainous highlands. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Pluto is a tiny world and incredibly distant from the Sun, so it was a pleasant surprise for scientists last summer when […]

'To Touch the Face of God': 30 Years Since the Loss of Challenger (Part 2)

Challenger's final crew, as they should be remembered: Positive and brilliant individuals, happily striving to explore space and further humanity's reach into the Universe. In the back row (left to right) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis and Judy Resnik. In the front row (left to right) Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, and Ron McNair. Image Credit: NASA

Challenger’s final crew, as they should be remembered: Positive and brilliant individuals, happily striving to explore space and further humanity’s reach into the Universe. In the back row (left to right) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis and Judy Resnik. In the front row (left to right) Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, and Ron McNair. […]

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 […]

'Obviously A Major Malfunction': 30 Years Since the Loss of Challenger (Part 1)

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. Photo Credit: NASA

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. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, on 28 January 1986, one of the worst and most public disasters in U.S. space history unfolded with horrifying suddenness in the […]

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 […]