Top Ten US EVA Missions of All Time: No. 8—'It'll Be A Miracle'

Dale Gardner holds up the famous “For Sale” sign to commemorate the successful salvage operation on Palapa-B2 and Westar-VI in November 1984. Photo Credit: NASA

Early in February 1984, astronaut Joe Allen was at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, watching his former crewmate Vance Brand rocket into orbit aboard Challenger on Mission […]

Repair and Salvage: The First 50 Years of Spacewalking (Part 4)

During his historic untethered EVA with the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) on 7 February 1984, Bruce McCandless ventured as far as 300 feet (90 meters) from Challenger. Photo Credit: NASA

Ironically, the spacecraft from which the most Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) were performed—the space shuttle—was not originally intended to carry the capability for spacewalking at […]

'Stop the Clock': 30 Years Since the Rescue of Westar and Palapa (Part 2)

Discovery thunders into orbit on 8 November 1984 to begin the first shuttle mission to deploy and retrieve two pairs of spacecraft. Photo Credit: NASA

By the summer of 1984, the space shuttle had enjoyed success and disappointment in equal measure. Astronauts had successfully tested a new jet-propelled backpack, the Manned Manoeuvring Unit (MMU), […]

Halcyon Days: 30 Years Since the Rescue of Westar and Palapa (Part 1)

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. Photo Credit: NASA

Early in February 1984, astronaut Joe Allen was at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, watching his former crewmate Vance Brand […]

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 […]

'Crankin’ APUs': Mission 51I and NASA’s ‘Can-Do’ Spirit

In a triumphant ending to a triumphant space salvage, James “Ox” van Hoften strikes a Charles Atlas pose on the end of the shuttle’s RMS mechanical arm, seemingly hoisting the world on his shoulders. Photo Credit: NASA

When Space Shuttle Discovery touched down in Florida on 19 April 1985—suffering seized brakes and enduring a […]

Retro Space Images: Lunar Rover Simulations

Photo Credit: NASA / Retro Space Images

Ground Based Roving: Apollo 15 astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin spend time at the Lunar Rover simulator located in the Crew Training Building at Kennedy Space Center. Scott and Irwin are assisted by support crew astronaut Joe Allen, who would also serve as CAPCOM during […]

“It’ll Be A Miracle”: The Rescue of Palapa and Westar (Part 2)

Secured into the Manned Manoeuvring Unit (MMU), and with the stinger positioned ahead of him, Dale Gardner enters the shadow of Westar. Minutes after this photograph – one of the most spectacular of 1984 – was taken, Gardner announced success with the capture of 51A’s second satellite. Photo Credit: NASA

By the summer of […]

“It’ll Be A Miracle”: The Rescue of Palapa and Westar (Part 1)

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 complacency. The […]

An ‘Operational’ Machine? Thirty Years Since STS-5 (Part 2)

With the completion of STS-5, NASA was able to publicly declare the Shuttle ‘operational’ for commercial and scientific missions. However, behind the scenes, its flaws were many and those flaws would grow and coalesce, producing the managerial, technical and cultural ingredients for disaster in January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, this week, […]