Paul Weitz, Skylab Savior and First Challenger Commander, Dies Aged 85

Paul Weitz, pictured at Skylab’s Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM), during his 28-day mission in May-June 1973. Photo Credit: NASA

Veteran astronaut Paul “P.J.” Weitz, who spacewalked to save America’s Skylab space station and later commanded shuttle Challenger on its maiden voyage, died yesterday (Monday, 23 October). He was 85. During a NASA career which […]

Firing Up the Shuttle: Looking Back at the Flight Readiness Firings (Part 2)

For the final time in the 30-year shuttle program, Endeavour’s engines blaze for their Flight Readiness Firing (FRF) on 6 April 1992. Photo Credit: NASA

“Three engines up. All going well.”

Thirty years ago, last week, the three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) of the orbiter Atlantis roared to life and burned fiercely for […]

Firing Up the Shuttle: Looking Back at the Flight Readiness Firings (Part 1)

Each shuttle was powered by a trio of RS-25 Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs). These were test-fired before each orbiter’s maiden voyage, during the Flight Readiness Firing (FRF). Image Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne

“And we have a Go for Autosequence Start. Atlantis’ on-board computers now controlling the final sequence.”

Thirty years ago, last week, NASA […]

From Shuttle to Hubble: An Interview With Dr. Story Musgrave

The STS-61 crew restored full sight to the ailing Hubble Space Telescope in December 1993. Standing at top, from left: Richard Covey, Jeffrey Hoffman, and Thomas Akers. Seated at bottom, from left: Kenneth Bowersox, Kathryn Thornton, Dr. Story Musgrave, and Claude Nicollier (ESA). Photo Credit: NASA

In space shuttle history, there is one astronaut […]

Repair and Salvage: The First 50 Years of Spacewalking (Part 4)

During his historic untethered EVA with the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) on 7 February 1984, Bruce McCandless ventured as far as 300 feet (90 meters) from Challenger. Photo Credit: NASA

Ironically, the spacecraft from which the most Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) were performed—the space shuttle—was not originally intended to carry the capability for spacewalking at […]

30 Years Ago: First Shuttle Night Launch, First African-American Astronaut, Oldest Man in Space (Part 1)

“Dan, how do the engines look?” As Gardner worried, and Bluford chuckled, Challenger roared into the history books on the morning of 30 August 1983. Photo Credit: NASA

At about midnight on the rainy evening of 30 August 1983, the adventure began for Guy Bluford, NASA’s first African-American astronaut. Together with his four STS-8 […]

30 Years Since STS-6: The Mission of the 'Geritol Bunch' (Part 2)

It was Paul Weitz (seated left) who decided on the F-Troop moniker for his crew, whose number included (left to right) Don Peterson, Story Musgrave, and Karol “Bo” Bobko. Photo Credit: Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago this week, the youngest member of the United States’ shuttle fleet took to the skies on her maiden […]

30 Years Since STS-6: The Rise of the Challenger (Part 1)

Challenger rolls in gloomy midwinter fog towards Pad 39A on 30 November 1982. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago this week, America’s second space shuttle thundered into orbit for the first time. Challenger spent five days circling the Home Planet, deployed a giant communications and data-relay satellite for NASA, and saw the first U.S. […]