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 […]

Ready for a Margarita: 20 Years Since the Second Hubble Servicing Mission (Part 2)

Twenty years ago, on STS-82, the Hubble Space Telescope was transformed from a 1970s instrument with 1980s optics into an observatory for 21st-century scientific discovery. Photo Credit: NASA

Two decades ago, yesterday, on 11 February 1997, Space Shuttle Discovery roared into the night with a seven-strong crew—Commander Ken Bowersox, Pilot Scott “Doc” Horowitz, Payload […]

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 […]

The Real Mission Impossible: 30 Years Since Mission 61C (Part 2)

Robert “Hoot” Gibson (right) and George “Pinky” Nelson lead the 61C crew out of the Operations & Checkout Building for launch. Following is crewmate Steve Hawley. Photo Credit: NASA

On Mission 61C, launched 30 years ago next week, on 12 January 1986, Space Shuttle Columbia was making her first orbital flight in over two […]

The Real Mission Impossible: 30 Years Since Mission 61C (Part 1)

“Mission Impossible” finally launches as Columbia roars into the darkened Florida skies on 12 January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA

Though three decades have passed, January 1986 has become entrenched in humanity’s popular consciousness as one of the darkest months in space history, for on its 28th day the crew of Challenger were lost in […]

'Somebody Get a Camera': 25 Years Since the Launch of Hubble (Part 2)

Twenty-five years after its April 1990 launch, the iconic Hubble Space Telescope remains functional. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years ago, yesterday, on 24 April 1990, one of the most important missions in the annals of scientific discovery got underway, with the launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. As described in yesterday’s AmericaSpace history article, […]

'Monster Flight': 25 Years Since Launch of Hubble (Part 1)

The moment of deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), as seen from the IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC). Photo Credit: NASA

“If there were ever two missions that were completely opposite in terms of the public attention that was given to them,” astronaut Loren Shriver once said, “it would be my first and […]

'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 […]

'Whatever Was Needed': 15 Years Since the First Female Shuttle Commander (Part 2)

Columbia roars into the darkened Florida sky at 12:31 a.m. EDT on 23 July 1999. It would be one of the most hazardous launch phases in shuttle history. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifteen years ago, this week, the first woman ever to lead a space mission was launched aboard Shuttle Columbia to deliver NASA’s $1.5 […]