'To Fly the First One': 40 Years Since the First Space Shuttle Crews

In March 1978, a “pool” of crew members were announced for the first four Orbital Flight Tests (OFTs) of the shuttle. At their initial press conference (from left) are Gordon Fullerton, Vance Brand, Jack Lousma, Fred Haise, Richard Truly, Joe Engle, Robert Crippen and John Young. Photo Credit: NASA

In the coming months, […]

'Like a Big Ol' Freight Train': 45 Years Since the Launch of Apollo 17

Apollo 17 launches into the night at 12:33 a.m. EST on 7 December 1972. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Forty-five years ago, the combined spacecraft of Apollo 17—the Command and Service Module (CSM), named “America”, and the spider-like Lunar Module (LM), dubbed “Challenger”—slipped smoothly into lunar orbit. In doing so, it represented […]

'The Lord Protected Grandpa': 30 Years Since Mission 51B (Part 2)

During the majority of the seven-day mission, Challenger operated in a gravity gradient orientation, with her vertical stabilizer directed Earthward and her starboard wing pointing in the direction of travel. Image Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, this week, a seven-man crew with a combined age of 340 years rocketed into […]

A Long Wait for Space: 30 Years Since Mission 51B (Part 1)

Challenger roars into orbit on 29 April 1985. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Thirty years ago, this week, Challenger was circling the Earth on the first dedicated Spacelab science flight of the shuttle era. For seven days, the crew of Mission 51B—Commander Bob Overmyer, Pilot Fred Gregory, Mission Specialists Don Lind, Norm […]

An ‘Operational’ Machine? Thirty Years Since STS-5 (Part 2)

With the completion of STS-5, NASA was able to publicly declare the Shuttle ‘operational’ for commercial and scientific missions. However, behind the scenes, its flaws were many and those flaws would grow and coalesce, producing the managerial, technical and cultural ingredients for disaster in January 1986. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, this […]

An ‘Operational’ Machine? Thirty Years Since STS-5 (Part 1)

STS-5 was the first ‘commercial’ Shuttle mission and featured the deployment of two telecommunications satellites – one for Satellite Business Systems and another for Telesat Canada – but the true nature of the reusable spacecraft as an operational vehicle remained inherently dangerous. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, this week, the Space Shuttle […]