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 […]

'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 […]

Repair and Salvage: The First 50 Years of Spacewalking (Part 4)

During his historic untethered EVA with the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) on 7 February 1984, Bruce McCandless ventured as far as 300 feet (90 meters) from Challenger. Photo Credit: NASA

Ironically, the spacecraft from which the most Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) were performed—the space shuttle—was not originally intended to carry the capability for spacewalking at […]

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 […]

Shuttle on the Night Shift: 25 Years Since STS-33

STS-33 was the first nocturnal shuttle launch and landing of the post-Challenger era; entirely appropriate, perhaps, in light of the shroud of darkness which covered its primary payload. Photo Credit: NASA

A quarter-century ago, this week, in November 1989, the shuttle embarked on its first launch and landing in the hours of darkness since […]