Who Is This? Remembering the Flight of STS-81 (Part 2)

The combined shuttle and Mir crews, pictured during the STS-81 visiting mission in January 1997. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Almost two decades ago, America’s shuttle program began living up to its billing as a vehicle for delivering experiments, equipment, and supplies to an Earth-circling space station. And in the small hours of […]

Stepping Stones to Space Station: Remembering the Flight of STS-81 (Part 1)

Atlantis roars into the night on 12 January 1997, kicking off the shuttle program’s fifth docking mission to Mir. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Almost two decades ago, America’s shuttle program began living up to its billing as a vehicle for delivering experiments, equipment, and supplies to an Earth-circling space station. And in […]

'Fifteen Midnights': Celebrating the New Year in Space (Part 1)

Bill Shepherd (center) and his Expedition 1 crewmates, Yuri Gidzenko (left) and Sergei Krikalev, juggle oranges during their time aboard the International Space Station. They celebrated both Christmas and the dawn of 2001 in orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

With a naval officer in command of the International Space Station, it might have seemed obvious […]

Ding-Dong Merrily On-Orbit: Celebrating Yuletide in Space (Part 1)

Truly the voyage of Apollo 8 over the Christmas period in 1968 carried with it the most profound message of the Greatest Story Ever Told: a message of peace, goodwill and harmony to the inhabitants of Planet Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

For the first time in history, two women will celebrate Christmas on Thursday, […]

Shuttle on the Night Shift: 25 Years Since STS-33

STS-33 was the first nocturnal shuttle launch and landing of the post-Challenger era; entirely appropriate, perhaps, in light of the shroud of darkness which covered its primary payload. Photo Credit: NASA

A quarter-century ago, this week, in November 1989, the shuttle embarked on its first launch and landing in the hours of darkness since […]

'The Choreography Was Incredible': 21 Years Since the Controversial Mission of STS-58 (Part 2)

Columbia roars into orbit at 10:53 a.m. EST on 18 October 1993, 21 years ago yesterday. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-one years ago, yesterday, on 18 October 1993, the longest flight ever attempted in shuttle history—the 14-day STS-58 mission, carrying the second Spacelab Life Sciences (SLS-2) research payload—was launched into orbit. Aboard Columbia were astronauts […]

'A Unique Opportunity': 21 Years Since the Controversial Mission of STS-58 (Part 1)

Glorious view of the Home Planet from STS-58, with the SLS-2 Spacelab module clearly visible in Columbia’s payload bay. Photo Credit: NASA

“John, we’re going to fly you one of these days,” Launch Director Bob Sieck called over the communications loop on 15 October 1993. The disappointment of another scrubbed launch attempt was evident […]

'Freeze the Sim': The Unflown International Mission of STS-61H (Part 2)

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 and all crews, including 61H, were stood down. Photo Credit: NASA

The beginning of the end of Mission 61H came on 28 January 1986, when Challenger and her […]

'Neat People': The Unflown International Mission of STS-61H (Part 1)

The view of the Home Planet from low-Earth orbit has been enjoyed by relatively few humans. Had the hands of fate turned more kindly, in June 1986 it might have been witnessed by a crew of U.S., British, and Indonesian astronauts. Photo Credit: NASA/Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

It has been almost a quarter of a century […]

A Controversial Mission: 20 Years Since STS-58 (Part 2)

The Spacelab Life Sciences (SLS)-2 mission in late 1993 provided a platform for dozens of medical and biological investigations, the data from which proved critical for future expeditions to Mir and the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago this week, one of the most complex and controversial space shuttle flights in […]