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 Horrible Moment': 30 Years Since the Shuttle’s Mission for Britain and Indonesia (Part 2)

Discovery rockets into orbit on STS-29 in March 1989, carrying more than half of the original crew of Mission 61H. Photo Credit: NASA

The beginning of the end of Mission 61H came on 28 January 1986, when Challenger and her crew were lost, just 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) […]

'Unless They Throw Me Out': 30 Years Since the Shuttle's Mission for Britain and Indonesia (Part 1)

The “core” NASA crew of the former Mission 61H, pictured during one of their post-Challenger extended simulations. From left to right are Mike Coats, John Blaha, Anna Fisher, Bob Springer, and (standing) Jim Buchli. Photo Credit: NASA/Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century ago, Britain’s first astronaut—civilian chemist Helen Sharman—roared into orbit aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, […]

Malarkey Milkshakes: 25 Years Since STS-39 (Part 2)

After almost two months of delays, Discovery roars into orbit on 28 April 1991, 25 years ago, this week. Her STS-39 mission marked the longest shuttle flight ever conducted for the Department of Defense. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty-five years ago, next week, one of the most complex space shuttle missions in […]

'What Did You Tell My Wife?': 25 Years Since STS-39 (Part 1)

The Infrared Background Signature Survey (IBSS), attached to a deployable Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS), was one of the principal payloads aboard STS-39. The eight-day flight was the longest shuttle mission ever conducted in support of the Department of Defense. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, the loss of Challenger, on 28 […]

'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 […]

'Silent, Except for the Wind': 30 Years Since the Maiden Countdown of Discovery (Part 1)

Thirty years ago, this week, Discovery prepared for her maiden voyage and the third shuttle flight of 1984. On 26 June, it brought NASA face to face with the harsh nature of launching humans into space. Photo Credit: NASA

“T-31 seconds … We have a Go for autosequence start … Discovery’s computers now taking […]

'Freeze the Sim': The Unflown International Mission of STS-61H (Part 2)

The infamous image, flashed around the world on 28 January 1986, immediately after Challenger’s tragic destruction. The disaster stalled the shuttle program for almost three years and all crews, including 61H, were stood down. Photo Credit: NASA

The beginning of the end of Mission 61H came on 28 January 1986, when Challenger and her […]