'Masterful Performances': 15 Years Since Columbia's Last Fully Successful Mission (Part 2)

Columbia roars into the pre-dawn darkness on 1 March 2002, beginning her final wholly-successful mission. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Rising into the pre-dawn darkness on 1 March 2002—15 years ago, next week—Space Shuttle Columbia’s 27th mission into low-Earth orbit would achieve, literally, the greatest heights of her storied career. In more than […]

'That Your Number Hadn't Come Up': 15 Years Since Columbia's Last Fully Successful Mission (Part 1)

The Hubble Space Telescope appears to “fly” over Earth as it is photographed during STS-109. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifteen years ago, next week, Columbia roared into orbit on her final wholly-successful mission, STS-109. It was the 27th flight of a vehicle which had ushered in the dawn of the Space Shuttle era, back in […]

'Lock the Doors': Remembering Columbia's Final Mission (Part 2)

As evidenced by the clock on the main screen at 14:15:05 GMT (9:15:05 am EST), this view of a tense Mission Control was acquired a quarter of an hour after the first sign of trouble…and a minute ahead of Columbia’s expected landing. By now, everyone was aware that all hope was gone and contingency […]

'So Thin and Fragile': Remembering Columbia's Final Mission (Part 1)

The dual-shift nature of STS-107 required the inclusion of sleep stations in Columbia’s middeck. In this image, Red Team members Laurel Clark, Rick Husband and Kalpana Chawla peek out of their bunks. Photo Credit: NASA

When Columbia’s payload bay doors opened at around midday EST on 16 January 2003—a few hours after NASA’s oldest […]

A Flight of Changes: 20 Years Since the Record-Setting Mission of STS-80 (Part 2)

Upon touchdown on 7 December 1996, Columbia and her STS-80 crew set an empirical record for the longest single mission of the Space Shuttle Program. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

When the crew of STS-80—launched 20 years ago, this week—were assigned to their mission in January 1996, theirs was expected to be one […]

Three-Spacecraft Ballet: 20 Years Since the Record-Setting Mission of STS-80 (Part 1)

Columbia roars to orbit on 19 November 1996, 20 years ago, today. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty years ago, today, on 19 November 1996, the longest space shuttle mission in history got underway with the spectacular liftoff of Columbia from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. During almost […]

Rolling Out on High Final: 35 Years Since the Short Mission of STS-2 (Part 2)

The Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm is put through its paces during STS-2. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty-five years ago, today, Space Shuttle Columbia was sailing—though not entirely smoothly—through her second orbital mission, STS-2. Aboard the orbiter, astronauts Joe Engle and Dick Truly were tasked with spending five days in […]

Flying a Used Space Shuttle: 35 Years Since the Short Mission of STS-2 (Part 1)

Columbia rolls out to Pad 39A in August 1981, ahead of the STS-2 mission. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

For almost three decades, from November 1981 through July 2011, Canada’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS), also known as the “Canadarm,” supplied much of the muscle needed by the space shuttle fleet to complete its […]

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation to Honor 35th Anniversary of First Shuttle Missions

Thirty-five years ago, in April and November 1981, NASA launched the first reusable piloted orbital spacecraft on its first two missions. In September 2016, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) will remember STS-1 and STS-2 with a panel discussion involving three of the four astronauts. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-five years ago, this summer, NASA worked […]

'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

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) […]