Dawn of an Era: Remembering Shuttle Columbia's Maiden Launch

 

Thirty-four years ago, today, at dawn, Columbia roared into orbit, heralding the dawn of a new era in U.S. space exploration. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty-four years ago, today, on 12 April 1981, the first winged orbital space vehicle carrying human pilots was launched from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) […]

Historic Satellite Retrieved by Three-Person Shuttle Spacewalk Ends its Life, According to Intelsat

Its new booster securely fitted, Intelsat 603 drifts away from Endeavour’s payload bay. After insertion into geosynchronous orbit, the satellite was instrumental in providing television coverage of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Photo Credit: NASA

Almost a quarter-century since its launch, and more than two decades since shuttle astronauts triumphantly snatched it from an unusable […]

'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 […]

'The Sultans of Space': The Multi-Cultural Mission of STS-51G (Part 2)

Pictured on Discovery’s aft flight deck, the STS-51G crew featured three discrete sovereign nations for the first time in shuttle history. Front row, from left, are John Creighton, Shannon Lucid, and Dan Brandenstein, with Sultan Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, Steve Nagel, John Fabian, and Patrick Baudry in the background. Photo Credit: NASA

Almost three decades ago, […]

'The Sultans of Space': The Multi-Cultural Mission of STS-51G (Part 1)

By the end of his seven days in space, Sultan Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud had given up looking for his own country, or even his own continent, and came to realize that all humans belonged to just “One World.” It is a message which continues to resonate today. Photo Credit: NASA

Almost three decades ago, on […]

‘A Big Mental Switch': The Maiden Voyage of Endeavour (Part 2)

Two decades have passed since Endeavour’s maiden voyage; a voyage which set record after record in terms of EVA, accomplishment and astronaut endurance, including the first (and so far only) three-person spacewalk. She continued to set records for the rest of her operational life. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-two years ago, on 7 May 1992, the […]

'A Mission We Wanted to Do': The Maiden Voyage of Endeavour (Part 1)

With the possible exception of Columbia and the very first space shuttle mission, few orbiters had as dramatic and exciting a maiden voyage as Endeavour. On STS-49, she provided a reliable stage for the longest EVA in history and the first three-man EVA in history. Despite the trials and tribulations of the flight, she […]

Dale Gardner, MMU Spacewalker, Dies Aged 65

Joe Allen (right, with red stripes on the legs of his suit) and Dale Gardner celebrate their success with a “For Sale” sign, displayed high above Westar and Earth. The triumphant Mission 51A would cement the shuttle’s credentials as infallible … but it was an infallibility which would usher in a mistaken sense of […]

Launch of Antares With Orbital's Cygnus 1 Spacecraft Delayed

Photo Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation / NASA

After a launch readiness review, mission planners with Orbital Sciences Corporation have opted to delay the first flight of the company’s Cygnus 1 cargo vessel, perched atop their Antares rocket, for no earlier than Sept. 18. The launch window extends from 10:50 to 11:05 a.m. (EDT). This […]