'Sitting On A Controlled Explosion': 25 Years Since the Space Shuttle's Half-Century Mission

 

Endeavour roars aloft, 25 years ago, this week, for the Space Shuttle’s 50th flight. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty-five years ago, this week, Space Shuttle Endeavour—the youngest member of NASA’s fleet of orbiter vehicles, built to replace the ill-fated Challenger—rocketed away from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, on a […]

Launching in the Rain: The Delays and Ascent of Mission 51I

On the cusp of daybreak, Mission 51I spreads its wings on 27 August 1985, kicking off one of the most dramatic Shuttle flights in history. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-two years ago, today, Space Shuttle Discovery roared into the pre-dawn darkness from historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), on an ambitious mission […]

'Magic Carpet Ride': 40 Years Since Enterprise Took the Space Shuttle to Altitude (Part 2)

Enterprise’s Captive-Active flights, which began 40 years ago, this month, laid the groundwork for the Free Flights and eventually the maiden Space Shuttle mission. Photo Credit: NASA

The Approach and Landing Test (ALT) series of the Space Shuttle, which began 40 years ago, in the summer of 1977, were “just that”, in the words […]

'In a Real Flight Environment': 40 Years Since Enterprise Took the Space Shuttle to Altitude (Part 1)

Flying Enterprise for her test flights were (from left) Gordon Fullerton, Fred Haise, Joe Engle and Dick Truly. Photo Credit: NASA

Four decades ago, this summer, a shuttle (though not a “space” shuttle) took to the skies above Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to show the world what she could do. Outwardly, Orbiter Vehicle […]

Baptism of Fire: 25 Years Since the Dramatic Rescue Mission of STS-49 (Part 2)

In the first, and so far only, three-person EVA, astronauts Rick Hieb, Tom Akers and Pierre Thuot manhandle Intelsat 603 into Endeavour’s payload bay for the attachment of a new rocket motor. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years ago, today, on 7 May 1992, Space Shuttle Endeavour launched into orbit on her maiden voyage, a […]

'A Mirror-Image Flight': 20 Years Since Columbia's Landing-to-Launch Record (Part 2)

With the reprioritization of mission objectives, the around-the-clock Spacelab operations in the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) changed dramatically. The astronauts even worked by torchlight at times to maintain power levels below critical levels. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, this week, Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed into orbit for what should have been an ambitious […]

'Once-In-A-Career Opportunity': 20 Years Since Columbia's Landing-to-Launch Record (Part 1)

After the shortest operational flight in the Space Shuttle Program, Columbia touches down at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on 8 April 1997. Her STS-83 mission had lasted just a few minutes shy of four full days in space. Photo Credit: NASA

Eighty-four days. A mere 12 weeks on Earth, 84 days […]

'One Cardinal Rule': 25 Years Since the Shuttle's Home-Watching Mission (Part 2)

Atlantis lands in Florida at the end of STS-45. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty-five years ago, this week, seven individuals from three sovereign nations—five Americans, the first Belgian citizen to enter space and a British-born astronaut—orbited Earth aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis. Their STS-45 mission carried a battery of experiments in the payload […]

'From the Most Violent Place': 25 Years Since the Shuttle's Home-Watching Mission (Part 1)

Flown 25 years ago, in March 1992, ATLAS-1 represented the first Space Shuttle payload fully dedicated to exploring the relationship between the Earth’s atmosphere and its interaction with the Sun. Photo Credit: NASA

A quarter-century ago, this week, Space Shuttle Atlantis roared into orbit on a mission intensely focused on Planet Earth; a mission […]

'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 […]