Speed and Power: Remembering Columbia's STS-52 Launch, 25 Years Later

Twenty-five years ago, STS-52 launched on a truly international mission, with U.S., European and Canadian participation. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

“A very long six seconds,” said STS-52 Commander Jim Wetherbee, of his final moments on Earth, “because by now, your brain’s working overtime!” A quarter-century ago, today, on 22 October 1992, Wetherbee […]

'To Make Life as Good as Possible': 25 Years Since STS-50 Stretched the Space Shuttle

A quarter-century ago, STS-50 set a new record for the longest Space Shuttle mission at that time. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty-five years ago, next week, the crew of Columbia roared into orbit to begin the longest shuttle mission ever attempted at that time. Equipped with the Extended Duration Orbiter (EDO) hardware—a […]

Firing Up the Shuttle: 25 Years Since the Last Flight Readiness Firing (Part 2)

Each Flight Readiness Firing (FRF) presented the opportunity to extensively test the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) in as close to real-flight operations. Photo Credit: NASA

A quarter-century ago, on 6 April 1992, the roar of three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) echoed across the marshy landscape of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in […]

'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 […]

'Just Unreal What It Had Done': 35 Years Since Columbia's Third Orbital Mission (Part 2)

Like a flying brick, Columbia descends towards White Sands on 30 March 1982. This view was acquired from one of the NASA T-38 jets, flying chase that morning. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-five years ago, in the final week of March 1982, Commander Jack Lousma and Pilot Gordon Fullerton flew Space Shuttle Columbia on her […]

'Not a Good Place to Land': 35 Years Since Columbia's Third Orbital Mission (Part 1)

Columbia touches down at the mountain-ringed White Sands site in New Mexico on 30 March 1982. Photo Credit: NASA

Almost four decades ago, and two years ahead of the first Space Shuttle launch, NASA took the unusual step of selecting a great white blotch of compacted salt and gypsum in New Mexico’s Tularosa Valley […]

'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 […]