Sprint to the Finish: 30 Years Since the 'Death Star' Missions (Part 2)

The 61G crew, tasked with deploying Galileo. From left are Norm Thagard, Ron Grabe, Dave Walker and James 'Ox' van Hoften. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

By the time Galileo eventually left Earth in October 1989, it was boosted toward Jupiter by a less powerful Inertial Upper Stage (IUS). Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, this month—had the hands of fate showed greater kindness—two shuttles might have rocketed into orbit within days of each other to deliver a pair of […]

Willing to Compromise: 30 Years Since the 'Death Star' Missions (Part 1)

Artist's impression of the Galileo-Centaur deployment on Mission 61G in May 1986. The deployment of Ulysses, less than a week earlier, on Mission 61F would have been similar. Image Credit: NASA

The Centaur-G Prime, mounted in its Centaur Integrated Support Structure (CISS), is readied for launch in the Shuttle Payload Integration Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo Credit: NASA

When Challenger was lost in the skies of Cape Canaveral on 28 January 1986, it brought to an end the space shuttle’s “age of innocence” […]

'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 […]

'A Heck of a Push': 30 Years Since the Dramatic Rescue of Mission 51I (Part 2)

The sheer size of the 15,000-pound (6,800-kg) Leasat-3 satellite is illustrated in this view of James “Ox” van Hoften manhandling it into space on Mission 51I. Photo Credit: NASA

For Dick Covey, the instant Space Shuttle Discovery broke the shackles of Earth on the cusp of daybreak on 27 August 1985 had been a […]

'Winging It': 30 Years Since the Dramatic Rescue of Mission 51I (Part 1)

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 Discovery touched down at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in […]

Mission to Unveil Earth's Twisted Sister: 25 Years Since STS-30 (Part 1)

Mounted atop Boeing’s Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), Magellan departs Atlantis’ payload bay on 4 May 1989. Had Challenger not been lost, Magellan might have flown a year earlier, in April 1988, aboard Mission 81I, with a quite different booster: the Centaur-G Prime. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years ago this week, in May 1989, Shuttle […]

'To Launch Americans Into Space': The Voyage of STS-26 (Part 2)

 

After 32 months of agony and introspection, the Kennedy Space Center was again rocked by the roar of shuttle main engines and Solid Rocket Boosters on the morning of 29 September 1988. It was the dawn of a new era. Photo Credit: NASA

Setting aside the enormity of the fact that STS-26 would […]

'Americans Return to Space': The Voyage of STS-26 (Part 1)

Twenty-five years have now passed since STS-26, the mission which laid the ghosts of Challenger to rest and opened the gates for a second Golden Age of shuttle operations. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years have now passed since the voice of launch commentator Hugh Harris exulted “Americans return to space” on the morning of […]

In the Shadow of Challenger: The Found Mission of STS-35 (Part 2)

Pictured in September 1990, the problem-plagued STS-35/Columbia stack is shown in the foreground, on Pad 39A, with the STS-41/Discovery stack in the background on Pad 39B. Discovery would be the only orbiter to escape the disconnect crisis in the summer of 1990, but would succumb to her own problems the following year. Photo Credit: NASA

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