Summer of the Shuttle: Remembering the Ill-Fated Summer of '84

An ominous cloud of smoke billows away from Pad 39A in the seconds after a problematic Main Engine Start on 26 June 1984. Photo Credit: NASA

More than 30 summers ago, America’s shuttle program should have entered its prime. Touted for over a decade as capable of flying regularly and routinely, the early summer […]

'Barn Burner': 30 Years Since the Spacewalking Spectacular of Mission 61B (Part 2)

In addition to a pair of spectacular EVAs by Jerry Ross and Woody Spring, Mission 61B deployed three satellites and carried Mexico’s first national astronaut into space. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, next week, Atlantis rocketed into orbit on her second mission, just 50 days after wrapping up her maiden […]

'Your Big Chance': 30 Years Since the Spacewalking Spectacular of Mission 61B (Part 1)

In the earliest EVA demonstration of building a space station, Jerry Ross and Woody Spring assemble the EASE tetrahedron in Atlantis’ payload bay. Their flight, Mission 61B, began 30 years ago, next week. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, next week, something unprecedented in the entire history of the shuttle program […]

'Vide Mater, Sine Manibus': 30 Years Since Shuttle Mission 51D (Part 2)

Spacewalkers Jeff Hoffman and Dave Griggs work to outfit a makeshift fly swatter onto the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm, in a fruitless attempt to activate Syncom 4-3’s deploy switch. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, next week, the crew of Mission 51D watched open-mouthed as a powerful communications satellite which they had […]

'It's Gonna Be Great': 30 Years Since Shuttle Mission 51D (Part 1)

Spacewalkers Jeff Hoffman and Dave Griggs work to outfit a makeshift fly swatter onto the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm, in a fruitless attempt to activate Syncom 4-3’s deploy switch. Photo Credit: NASA

None of the 135 missions flown by NASA’s five-strong fleet of shuttle orbiters between April 1981 and July 2011 could […]

The Flight That Wasn't: 30 Years Since the Unflown Mission 51E (Part 2)

In its third incarnation, the mission of Karol “Bo” Bobko finally takes flight on 12 April 1985. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Three decades ago, the shuttle program appeared bulletproof. In 1984, astronauts embarked on untethered EVAs, deployed satellites and performed scientific research, retrieved and repaired the crippled Solar Max observatory, and salvaged […]

The Flight That Wasn't: 30 Years Since the Unflown Mission 51E (Part 1)

The “core” NASA crew of Mission 41F, scheduled for launch on 9 August 1984 for a seven-day flight. From left to right are Commander Karol “Bo” Bobko, Pilot Don Williams and Mission Specialists Dave Griggs, Rhea Seddon and Jeff Hoffman. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, this week, the shuttle program […]

'Icebusters': 30 Years Since the Maiden Voyage of Shuttle Discovery (Part 2)

Discovery powers toward orbit on the morning of 30 August 1984, 30 years ago today. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, this week, the Shuttle Discovery—which would become, in time, the most-flown member of NASA’s fleet of orbiters—embarked on her maiden space voyage, launching from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on […]

'You'd Be Booked Up': 30 Years Since the Maiden Voyage of Shuttle Discovery (Part 1)

Hank Hartsfield (bottom center), surrounded by his STS-41D crewmates on the maiden voyage of Discovery in August 1984. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, today (30 August 1984), the Shuttle Discovery—which would become, in time, the most-flown member of NASA’s fleet of orbiters—embarked on her maiden space voyage, launching from Pad 39A at the […]

'Like Drowned Rats': 30 Years Since the Maiden Countdown of Discovery (Part 2)

Close-up view of Discovery’s three main engines, still exhibiting evidence of scorching from their momentary ignition on 26 June 1984, in the wake of the shuttle program’s first Redundant Set Launch Sequencer (RSLS) abort. Photo Credit: NASA

“ … We have a Go for main engine start … ”

The preparations proceeded remarkably smoothly […]