'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 […]

'Go at Throttle Up': Remembering the Sacrifice of the Challenger Seven (Part 2)

Flocks of terrified birds fly away in the face of Challenger’s roaring ascent from Pad 39B at 11:38 a.m. EST on 28 January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty-one winters have now passed since the frightful morning of Tuesday, 28 January 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger roared into the crystal-blue Florida sky, […]

Lost Innocence: Remembering the Sacrifice of the Challenger Seven (Part 1)

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. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-one years ago, today, on 28 January 1986, one of the worst and most public disasters in U.S. space history unfolded with horrifying suddenness in […]

'In A Heartbeat': 25 Years Since STS-42 Inaugurated International Space Year (Part 2)

Discovery spears for orbit on 22 January 1992, after an hour-long delay, caused by a fuel cell anomaly. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century ago, this month, a space mission rooted in disappointment and tragedy finally took flight. Aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, astronauts from the United States, Germany, and Canada embarked on […]

'Traumatic Decisions': 25 Years Since STS-42 Inaugurated International Space Year (Part 1)

The tunnel adaptor for the IML-1 Spacelab module is prepared for installation in the Orbiter Processing Facility. STS-42 was the first human launch of International Space Year 1992. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years have now passed since the International Space Year (ISY) in 1992, during which 29 national space agencies and 10 international organizations […]

'Better Than Any Simulation': 40 Years Since Enterprise Took the Shuttle From Ground to Air (Part 2)

Boasting the aerodynamic tail cone for four of the independent flights, Enterprise demonstrated the capabilities of the space shuttle in the low atmosphere. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty years ago, this fall, the first member of NASA’s space shuttle fleet was structurally complete and well on the way toward her first mission. Yet unlike the […]

'In A Real Flight Environment': 40 Years Since Enterprise Took the Shuttle From Ground to Air (Part 1)

NASA’s Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) is pictured here with Shuttle Enterprise during the first of the shuttle program’s Approach and Landing Tests (ALT) at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in summer 1977. Photo Credit: NASA

When we think of the space shuttle, we think of the five spaceworthy orbiter vehicles—Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, […]

Record-Breaker for Women Astronauts: 20 Years Since STS-79 (Part 2)

For the first time on STS-79, a shuttle crew saw Mir in its complete configuration, with six research and habitation modules. It had been Shannon Lucid’s home for six months and would be John Blaha’s home for the next four. Photo Credit: NASA

A glass half-full, or half-empty, was Bill Readdy’s perspective on the […]

Changing the Guard: 20 Years Since STS-79 (Part 1)

World record holder Shannon Lucid watches the growth of plants in a Russian greenhouse aboard Mir. This photograph was taken in September 1996, shortly after the crew of STS-79, including Lucid’s replacement, John Blaha, arrived to bring her home. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, this month, an American national record-breaker circled high above […]