On Opposing Sides of Tragedy: Remembering Atlantis on 30th Anniversary of Maiden Flight (Part 3)

Jerry Ross participates in the assembly of the EASE and ACCESS structures on Mission 61B in the fall of 1985. Ross became the first person to fly Atlantis twice and three times and is the only human to have flown her on as many as five occasions. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty […]

'I'm Not Worthy': Remembering Atlantis on 30th Anniversary of Maiden Flight (Part 2)

During almost 26 years of operational service, Atlantis flew 33 missions, travelled an estimated 125.9 million miles (202.7 million km), circled Earth 4,848 times, and spent over 306 cumulative days in orbit. She is the second most-flown member of NASA’s shuttle fleet, after Discovery. Photo Credit: NASA

For the crew of STS-132, it was […]

'A Proud Legacy': Remembering Atlantis on 30th Anniversary of Maiden Flight (Part 1)

Atlantis alights on Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 5:57 a.m. EDT on 21 July 2011, wrapping up a remarkable 33-mission career. Photo Credit: NASA/Kenny Allen

In the pre-dawn darkness of 21 July 2011, the small black-and-white dot of Atlantis glided smoothly into […]

'A New Orbiter Joins the Shuttle Fleet': 30 Years Since Atlantis' Maiden Voyage (Part 2)

Not until the summer of 1998 were any images from this most “vanilla” of Department of Defense flights revealed … although the nature of the flight had long since trickled into the public domain. A pair of Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS)-III satellites, mounted atop a Boeing-built Inertial Upper Stage, are here raised to […]

'For Tasks That Might or Might Not Take Place': 30 Years Since Atlantis' Maiden Voyage (Part 1)

During the course of her 33-mission career, which began 30 years ago on 3 October 1985, Atlantis flew more Department of Defense assignments than any other orbiter, beginning with her maiden voyage, 51J. In keeping with DoD missions, the patch was both highly symbolic and patriotic. Image Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years […]

Firing Up the Shuttle: Looking Back at the Flight Readiness Firings (Part 2)

For the final time in the 30-year shuttle program, Endeavour’s engines blaze for their Flight Readiness Firing (FRF) on 6 April 1992. Photo Credit: NASA

“Three engines up. All going well.”

Thirty years ago, last week, the three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) of the orbiter Atlantis roared to life and burned fiercely for […]

Firing Up the Shuttle: Looking Back at the Flight Readiness Firings (Part 1)

Each shuttle was powered by a trio of RS-25 Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs). These were test-fired before each orbiter’s maiden voyage, during the Flight Readiness Firing (FRF). Image Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne

“And we have a Go for Autosequence Start. Atlantis’ on-board computers now controlling the final sequence.”

Thirty years ago, last week, NASA […]