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 […]

A Sore Head: Americans in Space on Independence Day

On 4 July 1982, the crew of STS-4 became the first U.S. astronauts to spend Independence Day in space. It also marked the date of their spectacular return to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo Credit: NASA

For almost two decades, the Fourth of July—that most quintessential day of celebration in the United States—has […]

'Those Are Beautiful Shoes': Celebrating Independence Day in Space (Part 1)

On 4 July 1982, the crew of STS-4 became the first U.S. astronauts to spend Independence Day in space. It also marked the date of their spectacular return to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo Credit: NASA

On the morning of 4 July 1982, a rapidly moving, black and white speck appeared on the […]

'The Most Beautiful Thing': 30 Years Since Challenger's Last Successful Mission (Part 2)

In one of the final views of Challenger in space, the orbiter sails over the cloud-bedecked Earth, with the Spacelab D-1 module clearly visible in her payload bay. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, next week, Space Shuttle Challenger flew in space for the final time. Mission 61A—the ninth and last […]

'Dallas? You Mean the City?' 30 Years Since Challenger's Last Successful Mission (Part 1)

Thirty years ago, next week, Shuttle Challenger launched on her final successful mission. Photo Credit: NASA

It is a dismaying fact of history that the name “Challenger”—when spoken in relation to the second spaceworthy vehicle of NASA’s shuttle fleet—is so often associated only with the dreadful catastrophe which snuffed out seven lives on the […]

'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 […]

'What's Tab November?': The Independence Day Mission of STS-4 (Part 2)

Columbia roars into orbit on 27 June 1982, kicking off the STS-4 mission. Photo Credit: Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

More than three decades ago, on Independence Day (4 July) in 1982, Columbia triumphantly touched down at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., concluding the fourth shuttle mission. Aboard the reusable spacecraft were Commander Ken Mattingly and Pilot […]

'A Hundred Flights ... ': The Independence Day Mission of STS-4 (Part 1)

Columbia touches down at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on 4 July 1982, concluding the shuttle’s fourth and final Orbital Flight Test. Photo Credit: NASA

More than three decades ago, on Independence Day (4 July) in 1982, Columbia triumphantly touched down at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., concluding the fourth shuttle mission. Aboard 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 […]