'Wide-Eyed Dreamers': 20 Years Since STS-77's Record-Setting Rendezvous Mission (Part 1)

The Inflatable Antenna Experiment (IAE) extends from the SPARTAN-207 free-flying satellite, after deployment. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Early on 20 May 1996, NASA astronaut Mario Runco, Jr., grappled SPARTAN-207—a small, free-flying spacecraft, equipped with a very unique experiment—and lifted it from Shuttle Endeavour’s payload bay with the Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System […]

'Fifteen Midnights': Celebrating the New Year in Space (Part 1)

Bill Shepherd (center) and his Expedition 1 crewmates, Yuri Gidzenko (left) and Sergei Krikalev, juggle oranges during their time aboard the International Space Station. They celebrated both Christmas and the dawn of 2001 in orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

With a naval officer in command of the International Space Station, it might have seemed […]

Ding-Dong Merrily On-Orbit: Celebrating Yuletide in Space (Part 2)

Since December 2000, a multi-national mix of Americans and Russians, Japanese and Italians, a Dutchman and a Canadian have celebrated Christmas aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA

As we celebrate the festive period over the coming days, spare a thought for the four men and two women from three discrete nations […]

'Dramatic, Down-the-Throat View': 20 Years Since STS-68 (Part 2)

The vast plume of Klyuchevskaya Sopka, in Kamchatka, which erupted shortly after STS-68 reached orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, on 30 September 1994, the crew of Shuttle Endeavour rocketed into orbit—six weeks later than originally planned—on an 11-day mission to support the second Space Radar Laboratory (SRL-2). As described in yesterday’s […]

'Engines in Post-Shutdown Standby': 20 Years Since STS-68 (Part 1)

For the second time in less than six months, the Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) rode Endeavour into orbit in September-October 1994. However, the launch of STS-68 was delayed extensively, following the shuttle program’s last Redundant Set Launch Sequencer (RSLS) abort. Photo Credit: NASA

One day in the summer of 1993, astronaut Tom Jones […]

Mission for Science and Technology: 18 Years Since STS-77 (Part 2)

Fully deployed, the Inflatable Antenna Experiment (IAE) sprouts from the SPARTAN-207 satellite. Photo Credit: NASA

Eighteen years ago this week, six men orbited Earth aboard Shuttle Endeavour on one of the most complex research flights ever conducted in the program’s 30-year history. With such a large number of payloads aboard, it was imperative […]

Mission for Science and Technology: 18 Years Since STS-77 (Part 1)

At the cusp of daybreak on 19 May 1996, Endeavour thunders into orbit to begin the multi-faceted STS-77 mission. Photo Credit: NASA

Early on 20 May 1996, astronaut Mario Runco Jr. grappled SPARTAN-207—a small, free-flying spacecraft, equipped with a very unique payload—and unberthed it from Endeavour’s payload bay with the shuttle’s Canadian-built Remote […]

'I Wouldn’t Call it Fear': The Shuttle Launch Pad Aborts (Part 2)

The closest the shuttle ever came to a launch at the time of abort was T-1.9 seconds, on 18 August 1994. So close was the shuttle to launch, the on-board General Purpose Computers had already moded to their 102 ascent software configuration at the time of the abort. Photo Credit: NASA

In the […]

'Quiet as a Crypt': The Shuttle Launch Pad Aborts (Part 1)

Close-up view of Discovery’s three main engines—still exhibiting evidence of scorching from their momentary ignition on 26 June 1984—in the wake of the shuttle program’s first RSLS abort. Photo Credit: NASA

Throughout its 30-year career—consciously or unconsciously—the space shuttle was acknowledged to be one of the most dangerous piloted space vehicles ever brought […]

The Shuttle Flight That Did it All: Twenty Years Since STS-51 (Part 2)

Jim Newman (left) and Carl Walz at work in Discovery’s payload bay during STS-51. Their EVA involved several key tool tests, ahead of the ambitious Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Photo Credit: NASA

In the entirety of its 30-year operational career, none of the voyages of the space shuttle could be truly described […]