The Story of the Vanishing Satellite: Remembering Top-Secret STS-36, 30 Years On

Atlantis spears for the heavens at 2:50 a.m. EST on 28 February 1990. Photo Credit: NASA

In many minds, STS-36—a top-secret Department of Defense mission, flown 30 years ago this month—was one of the greatest flights ever undertaken in the three decades of Space Shuttle operations. In his memoir Man On A Mission, astronaut Dave Hilmers recalled […]

Remembering Challenger's Lost Innocence, OTD in 1986

A poignant image of a fragment from Challenger’s shattered body, bearing the fallen craft’s name. Photo Credit: NASA

For those of us of a certain age, there can be few more horrific images imprinted upon our long-term memories than the sight of shuttle Challenger exploding in the sky above Cape Canaveral on 28 January […]

Remembering Shuttle Discovery's Miracle Mission 51C, 35 Years On (Part 2)

Discovery touches down at the Kennedy Space Center on 27 January 1985, following the shortest operational flight in the shuttle’s 30-year history. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-five years ago, this week, the crew of shuttle Discovery—Apollo veteran Ken Mattingly, together with “rookie” astronauts Loren Shriver, Jim Buchli and Ellison Onizuka and Air Force Manned Spaceflight […]

Remembering Shuttle Discovery's Miracle Mission, 35 Years On (Part 1)

Thirty-five years ago, this week, Discovery flew Mission 51C, the shuttle’s first totally classified mission. Photo Credit: NASA

“Miracle” is a term often applied to many aspects of the space program: from Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight aboard Vostok 1 to the historic first manned lunar landing and from the triumph of Apollo 13 to […]

The Real Mission Impossible: Remembering STS-61C's Quest for Space

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

The opening weeks of each year are always tinged with sadness for America’s space program, as the nation observes a triplet of cruel anniversaries: the 1967 loss of Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed […]

'Down-the-Throat Geology': Remembering the Fall and Rise of STS-68, 25 Years On (Part 2)

Spectacular “down-the-throat” perspective of the Klyuchevskaya Sopka eruption in Kamchatka, which occurred during the STS-68 mission, 25 years ago. Photo Credit: NASA 

Twenty-five years ago, tonight, six astronauts spent their last night on Earth ahead of a scheduled liftoff early the following morning on a complex mission to radar-map the Home Planet in unprecedented detail. The […]

To Save A Space Station: The Unrealized Rescue of Skylab, 40 Years On

The engines of the Teleoperator Retrieval System (TRS), seen docked to Skylab, perform a lengthy “burn” to either deliver the old space station into a higher, more stable orbit or to prepare it for a controlled, destructive re-entry. Image Credit: NASA

Visiting space stations is, and always has been, a complex and challenging endeavor; […]

EVAs and More on 'Sixty-Four: Remembering STS-64, 25 Years On (Part 2)

Spacewalkers Mark Lee (right) and Carl Meade work above Discovery’s payload bay during STS-64, 25 years ago, this month. Below them is the large telescope of their primary payload, the Lidar In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE) and, just behind it, the gold-colored mass of the SPARTAN solar physics satellite. Photo Credit: NASA

A quarter-century ago, […]

'The Worst Coffee': Remembering Columbia's Return on STS-28, Thirty Years On (Part 2)

Columbia roars to orbit on 8 August 1989, beginning the first flight of her post-Challenger career. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, this month, Space Shuttle Columbia returned to flight, following a three-year down time in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster. Aboard STS-28 for a five-day flight were Commander Brewster Shaw, Pilot Dick […]

'Off to a Good Start': Remembering Columbia's Return on STS-28, Thirty Years On (Part 1)

Columbia touches down at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on 13 August 1989, to wrap up her first mission after the Challenger tragedy. Photo Credit: NASA

Astronaut Dick Richards was five weeks from his first launch into space when the Challenger disaster snatched the opportunity from him. In January 1985, Richards had been named […]