'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 […]

Russia's Tass Identifies Short-Notice U.S. Astronauts for Additional ISS-Bound Soyuz Seats

Two additional seats have opened up for NASA astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) in September 2017 and March 2018. This will increase the U.S. Orbital Segment (USOS) to four members for the first time. Photo Credit: NASA

Two experienced U.S. astronauts, with a combined total of more than 300 days in orbit, […]

Tooled Up for a Telescope: 20 Years Since the Second Hubble Servicing Mission (Part 1)

Barely illuminated by sunlight, Joe Tanner is pictured during EVA-4 on STS-82. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years have now passed since a seven-man rocketed into the night to begin the second servicing mission to the $1.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Coming on the heels of the ambitious STS-61 shuttle flight in December 1993—during […]

'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 […]

'So Thin and Fragile': Remembering Columbia's Final Mission (Part 1)

The dual-shift nature of STS-107 required the inclusion of sleep stations in Columbia’s middeck. In this image, Red Team members Laurel Clark, Rick Husband and Kalpana Chawla peek out of their bunks. Photo Credit: NASA

When Columbia’s payload bay doors opened at around midday EST on 16 January 2003—a few hours after NASA’s oldest […]

'A Lot of Cheers on the Ground': 10 Years Since STS-116 Brought Power to the Space Station (Part 2)

The International Space Station (ISS) appears to “rise” from behind Discovery, as the two spacecraft near the end of their rendezvous on 11 December 2006. Photo Credit: NASA

When Commander Mark Polansky docked Space Shuttle Discovery onto the International Space Station (ISS) on 11 December 2006, ten years ago, today, he kicked off an […]

A Pilot for a Space Station: 20 Years Since John Blaha's Lengthy Mission to Mir (Part 2)

For the first time on STS-79, a shuttle crew saw Mir in its complete configuration, with six research and habitation modules. This would form John Blaha’s home for four months from September 1996 through January 1997. Photo Credit: NASA

“ … And liftoff of Atlantis on the fourth flight to dock with the Russian […]

A Space Station Stay Before Retirement: 20 Years Since John Blaha's Lengthy Mission to Mir (Part 1)

John Blaha gazes through Atlantis’ overhead flight deck windows, shortly after docking with Mir in September 1996. Photo Credit: NASA

Of all the NASA astronauts who have flown long-duration space missions—longer than a month or so—very few have moved from the commander’s or pilot’s seat of a space shuttle and rotated into a lengthy […]

Changing the Guard: 20 Years Since STS-79 (Part 1)

World record holder Shannon Lucid watches the growth of plants in a Russian greenhouse aboard Mir. This photograph was taken in September 1996, shortly after the crew of STS-79, including Lucid’s replacement, John Blaha, arrived to bring her home. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, this month, an American national record-breaker circled high above […]

'To Make Sure We Didn't Make the News': 25 Years Since STS-48 (Part 2)

Originally scheduled to be the first shuttle mission to land at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in the hours of darkness, STS-48 was ultimately diverted to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Late in September 2011, the skies above the Pacific Ocean were illuminated by an astonishing—though not unexpected—fire […]