'Roger, Go': Remembering the Shuttle's Return to Flight, 30 Years Ago

Thirty years ago, at 11:38 a.m. EDT on 29 September 1988, America returned to space with humans for the first time in the 32 months since Challenger. Photo Credit: NASA

As America prepares for another “return to flight” next year—carrying astronauts to low-Earth orbit aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon—a moment of […]

Ride, Sally Ride: 35 Years Since America's First Woman in Space

Sally Ride on Challenger’s flight deck during STS-7. Her mission opened the door for U.S. women to venture into orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-five years ago, this week, America launched its first woman into space. Physicist Dr. Sally Ride rocketed into orbit aboard shuttle Challenger—accompanied by fellow STS-7 astronauts Bob Crippen, Rick Hauck, John […]

Sprint to the Finish: 30 Years Since the 'Death Star' Missions (Part 2)

By the time Galileo eventually left Earth in October 1989, it was boosted toward Jupiter by a less powerful Inertial Upper Stage (IUS). Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, this month—had the hands of fate showed greater kindness—two shuttles might have rocketed into orbit within days of each other to deliver a pair of […]

Willing to Compromise: 30 Years Since the 'Death Star' Missions (Part 1)

The Centaur-G Prime, mounted in its Centaur Integrated Support Structure (CISS), is readied for launch in the Shuttle Payload Integration Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo Credit: NASA

When Challenger was lost in the skies of Cape Canaveral on 28 January 1986, it brought to an end the space shuttle’s “age of innocence” […]

Top Ten US EVA Missions of All Time: No. 8—'It'll Be A Miracle'

Dale Gardner holds up the famous “For Sale” sign to commemorate the successful salvage operation on Palapa-B2 and Westar-VI in November 1984. Photo Credit: NASA

Early in February 1984, astronaut Joe Allen was at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, watching his former crewmate Vance Brand rocket into orbit aboard Challenger on Mission […]

'Stop the Clock': 30 Years Since the Rescue of Westar and Palapa (Part 2)

Discovery thunders into orbit on 8 November 1984 to begin the first shuttle mission to deploy and retrieve two pairs of spacecraft. Photo Credit: NASA

By the summer of 1984, the space shuttle had enjoyed success and disappointment in equal measure. Astronauts had successfully tested a new jet-propelled backpack, the Manned Manoeuvring Unit (MMU), […]

Halcyon Days: 30 Years Since the Rescue of Westar and Palapa (Part 1)

Joe Allen (right, with red stripes on the legs of his suit) and Dale Gardner celebrate their success with a “For Sale” sign, displayed high above Westar and Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

Early in February 1984, astronaut Joe Allen was at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, watching his former crewmate Vance Brand […]

Mission to Unveil Earth's Twisted Sister: 25 Years Since STS-30 (Part 1)

Mounted atop Boeing’s Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), Magellan departs Atlantis’ payload bay on 4 May 1989. Had Challenger not been lost, Magellan might have flown a year earlier, in April 1988, aboard Mission 81I, with a quite different booster: the Centaur-G Prime. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years ago this week, in May 1989, Shuttle […]

Dale Gardner, MMU Spacewalker, Dies Aged 65

Joe Allen (right, with red stripes on the legs of his suit) and Dale Gardner celebrate their success with a “For Sale” sign, displayed high above Westar and Earth. The triumphant Mission 51A would cement the shuttle’s credentials as infallible … but it was an infallibility which would usher in a mistaken sense of […]

'To Launch Americans Into Space': The Voyage of STS-26 (Part 2)

 

After 32 months of agony and introspection, the Kennedy Space Center was again rocked by the roar of shuttle main engines and Solid Rocket Boosters on the morning of 29 September 1988. It was the dawn of a new era. Photo Credit: NASA

Setting aside the enormity of the fact that STS-26 would […]