'Some Serious Fireworks': Celebrating Independence Day in Space (Part 2)

Throughout the 30-year Space Shuttle era, six missions were in orbit on Independence Day. Of those six, just one (STS-121) launched on the holiday and another (STS-4) landed on the holiday. Photo Credit: NASA

Commander Ken Mattingly and Pilot Hank Hartsfield salute President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan on Edwards’ concrete Runway 22 on Independence Day in 1982. Columbia is clearly visible in the background. Photo Credit: NASA

“Eight, seven, six … Go for Main Engine Start … ”

It was a familiar preamble from the […]

'Those Are Beautiful Shoes': Celebrating Independence Day in Space (Part 1)

On 4 July 1982, the crew of STS-4 became the first U.S. astronauts to spend Independence Day in space. It also marked the date of their spectacular return to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo Credit: NASA

On 4 July 1982, the crew of STS-4 became the first U.S. astronauts to spend Independence Day in space. It also marked the date of their spectacular return to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo Credit: NASA

On the morning of 4 July 1982, a rapidly moving, black and white speck appeared on the […]

'A Horrible Moment': 30 Years Since the Shuttle’s Mission for Britain and Indonesia (Part 2)

Discovery rockets into orbit on STS-29 in March 1989, carrying more than half of the original crew of Mission 61H. Photo Credit: NASA

Discovery rockets into orbit on STS-29 in March 1989, carrying more than half of the original crew of Mission 61H. Photo Credit: NASA

The beginning of the end of Mission 61H came on 28 January 1986, when Challenger and her crew were lost, just 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) […]

'Unless They Throw Me Out': 30 Years Since the Shuttle's Mission for Britain and Indonesia (Part 1)

The "core" NASA crew of the former Mission 61H, pictured during one of their post-Challenger extended simulations. From left to right are Mike Coats, John Blaha, Anna Fisher, Bob Springer and (standing) Jim Buchli. Photo Credit: NASA/Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

The “core” NASA crew of the former Mission 61H, pictured during one of their post-Challenger extended simulations. From left to right are Mike Coats, John Blaha, Anna Fisher, Bob Springer, and (standing) Jim Buchli. Photo Credit: NASA/Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century ago, Britain’s first astronaut—civilian chemist Helen Sharman—roared into orbit aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, […]

'Short-Lived Record': 20 Years Since the Record-Setting Mission of STS-78 (Part 2)

Launched 20 years ago, this week, STS-78 still holds the record for the shortest interval between the announcement and execution of a Spacelab mission. It was designed to bridge the gulf between the twilight of the Spacelab era and the dawn of a long-duration research capability aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

 

Launched 20 years ago, this week, STS-78 still holds the record for the shortest interval between the announcement and execution of a Spacelab mission. It was designed to bridge the gulf between the twilight of the Spacelab era and the dawn of a long-duration research capability aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Photo […]

'Man, I'm Here': 20 Years Since the Record-Setting Mission of STS-78 (Part 1)

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Created as a “bridge” between the final Spacelab flights and the beginning of research aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS) offered a nod to past and future. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Two decades ago, this week, International Space Station (ISS) research began in earnest, even though […]

One Man and His Catheter: 25 Years Since the Shuttle's First Life Sciences Mission (Part 2)

Having ridden to orbit wearing a heart catheter, Drew Gaffney (left) offers his arm to Jim Bagian and Millie Hughes-Fulford for one of many blood draws. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Having ridden to orbit wearing a heart catheter, Drew Gaffney (left) offers his arm to Jim Bagian and Millie Hughes-Fulford for one of many blood draws. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century ago, this week, one of the most complex scientific research missions ever undertaken rocketed into orbit aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. […]

'To Get Back Together': 25 Years Since the Shuttle's First Life Sciences Mission (Part 1)

Carrying the bus-sized Spacelab module in her payload bay, Columbia drifts above Earth in June 1991. Photo Credit: NASA

Carrying the bus-sized Spacelab module in her payload bay, Columbia drifts above Earth in June 1991. Twenty-five years ago, this week, STS-40 marked the shuttle program’s first mission fully devoted to the life sciences. Photo Credit: NASA

For Bryan O’Connor, commander of the space shuttle’s first dedicated life sciences mission, the key concern on […]

'An Amazing and Wonderful Experience': 20 Years Since STS-77’s Record-Setting Rendezvous Mission (Part 2)

The struts of the Inflatable Antenna Experiment (IAE) deploy in the minutes after leaving the vicinity of Endeavour. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

STS-77’s primary cargoes dominate this view of Endeavour’s payload bay in orbit. In the foreground is the Spacehab-4 module, with SPARTAN-207 visible in the background. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty years ago this week, six men orbited Earth aboard Shuttle Endeavour on one of the most complex research flights ever conducted in […]

'Wide-Eyed Dreamers': 20 Years Since STS-77's Record-Setting Rendezvous Mission (Part 1)

Endeavour rises into the dawn on 19 May 1996, kicking off the STS-77 mission. Photo Credit: NASA

The Inflatable Antenna Experiment (IAE) extends from the SPARTAN-207 free-flying satellite, after deployment. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Early on 20 May 1996, NASA astronaut Mario Runco, Jr., grappled SPARTAN-207—a small, free-flying spacecraft, equipped with a very unique experiment—and lifted it from Shuttle Endeavour’s payload bay with the Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) […]