'Big Mental Switch': Remembering Shuttle Endeavour's Maiden Voyage (Part 2)

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 […]

'Where We Either Succeeded or Failed': Remembering Shuttle Endeavour's Maiden Voyage (Part 1)

In the first, and so far only, three-person EVA, astronauts Rick Hieb, Tom Akers and Pierre Thuot manhandle Intelsat 603 into Endeavour’s payload bay for the attachment of a new rocket motor. Photo Credit: NASA

“Ready. Ready. Grab!”

The words of Rick Hieb echoed through the silent Mission Control Center (MCC) at the Johnson […]

Stretching the Shuttle: 25 Years Since the EDO Decision

Columbia is approached by servicing vehicles on the runway on 7 December 1996, after concluding STS-80, the shuttle program’s longest Extended Duration Orbiter (EDO) mission. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years ago, this week, NASA and Rockwell International reached a historic agreement which would, both figuratively and literally, “extend” the shuttle and its myriad capabilities […]

Hubble Shows Evidence of Large Underground Ocean on Ganymede

From HubbleSite: “NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observed a pair of auroral belts encircling the Jovian moon Ganymede. The belts were observed in ultraviolet light by the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and are colored blue in this illustration. They are overlaid on a visible-light image of Ganymede taken by NASA’s Galileo orbiter. The locations of […]

'Since the Earth Cooled': 20 Years Since the Record-Setting Mission of STS-67 (Part 2)

Endeavour touches down at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on 18 March 1995, after almost 17 days in orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

Records are there to be broken, and in March 1995—20 years ago, this week—the crew of Endeavour was midway through what turned out to be the longest flight in shuttle program history […]

'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 […]

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 […]

Mapping Planet Earth: 15 Years Since STS-99 (Part 2)

The Outboard Antenna of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) extends 200 feet (60 meters) into space atop a mast extended from Endeavour’s payload bay. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifteen years ago, this week, the six-member crew of STS-99—Commander Kevin Kregel, Pilot Dom Gorie, and Mission Specialists Janet Kavandi, Janice Voss, Germany’s Gerhard Thiele, and […]

Mapping Planet Earth: 15 Years Since STS-99 (Part 1)

Computer-generated image of Endeavour performing radar observations with instruments in her payload bay and affixed to the deployable Outboard Antenna on STS-99. Image Credit: NASA

At the dawn of the year 2000, more precise radar maps existed of Venus—thanks to NASA’s Magellan imaging spacecraft—than of our own Home Planet. Although areas of Earth had […]

'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 […]