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 […]

The Other Side of Spaceflight: An Interview with Rick Houston, Co-Author of 'Go, Flight!'

From NASA: "Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in the Mission Control Center (MCC), Building 30, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), showing the flight controllers celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission." Photo Credit: NASA

From NASA: “Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in the Mission Control Center (MCC), Building 30, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), showing the flight controllers celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission.” Go, Flight! discusses the flight controllers who made historic NASA missions “tick.” Photo Credit: NASA

The […]

'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 […]

'Without Travel Orders': 20 Years Since the Marathon Flight of STS-73 (Part 2)

Clad in their respective “red” and “blue” shirts, to denote their membership of the 12-hour Red and Blue Teams, the STS-73 crew pose for an in-flight portrait in the Spacelab module. Front row (from left) are Kathy Thornton, Mike Lopez-Alegria, and Ken Bowersox, with Catherine “Cady” Coleman and Fred Leslie in the middle row, […]

'Not For Geeks': 20 Years Since the Marathon Mission of STS-73 (Part 1)

With her port-side payload bay door positioned at 62-degrees-open, in order to guard against Micrometeoroid Orbital Debris (MMOD) impacts in a gravity gradient attitude, Columbia sails through her long-delayed 18th mission in October-November 1995. Photo Credit: NASA

The “geek” has long been recognized as an eccentric, non-mainstream individual, usually imbued with a peculiar or […]

Firing Up the Shuttle: Looking Back at the Flight Readiness Firings (Part 2)

For the final time in the 30-year shuttle program, Endeavour’s engines blaze for their Flight Readiness Firing (FRF) on 6 April 1992. Photo Credit: NASA

“Three engines up. All going well.”

Thirty years ago, last week, the three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) of the orbiter Atlantis roared to life and burned fiercely for […]