'Significant Tug': Remembering the Shuttle Drag Chute, 30 Years On

Thirty years ago this summer, NASA began flight-testing the shuttle’s drag chute system. It would go on to make each shuttle landing immeasurably safer. […]

'I Didn't Touch a Thing': Remembering Challenger's Pad Abort, OTD in 1985

OTD in 1985, the crew of Challenger suffered a close-call on the launch pad: a shutdown of the shuttle’s main engines, seconds before liftoff. […]

'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, […]

'Thanks for the Lift': 40 Years Since Enterprise Took Free-Flight

Enterprise’s flights, 40 years ago, laid the groundwork for the Free Flights and eventually the maiden Space Shuttle mission. Photo Credit: NASA

They gathered in their thousands—65,000, in fact—at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in the cool, pre-dawn hours of Friday, 12 August 1977, to witness America’s first Space Shuttle take flight and […]

'Magic Carpet Ride': 40 Years Since Enterprise Took the Space Shuttle to Altitude (Part 2)

Enterprise’s Captive-Active flights, which began 40 years ago, this month, laid the groundwork for the Free Flights and eventually the maiden Space Shuttle mission. Photo Credit: NASA

The Approach and Landing Test (ALT) series of the Space Shuttle, which began 40 years ago, in the summer of 1977, were “just that”, in the […]

'In a Real Flight Environment': 40 Years Since Enterprise Took the Space Shuttle to Altitude (Part 1)

Flying Enterprise for her test flights were (from left) Gordon Fullerton, Fred Haise, Joe Engle and Dick Truly. Photo Credit: NASA

Four decades ago, this summer, a shuttle (though not a “space” shuttle) took to the skies above Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to show the world what she could do. Outwardly, Orbiter […]

'Just Unreal What It Had Done': 35 Years Since Columbia's Third Orbital Mission (Part 2)

Like a flying brick, Columbia descends towards White Sands on 30 March 1982. This view was acquired from one of the NASA T-38 jets, flying chase that morning. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-five years ago, in the final week of March 1982, Commander Jack Lousma and Pilot Gordon Fullerton flew Space Shuttle Columbia on […]

'Not a Good Place to Land': 35 Years Since Columbia's Third Orbital Mission (Part 1)

Columbia touches down at the mountain-ringed White Sands site in New Mexico on 30 March 1982. Photo Credit: NASA

Almost four decades ago, and two years ahead of the first Space Shuttle launch, NASA took the unusual step of selecting a great white blotch of compacted salt and gypsum in New Mexico’s Tularosa […]

'Better Than Any Simulation': 40 Years Since Enterprise Took the Shuttle From Ground to Air (Part 2)

Boasting the aerodynamic tail cone for four of the independent flights, Enterprise demonstrated the capabilities of the space shuttle in the low atmosphere. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty years ago, this fall, the first member of NASA’s space shuttle fleet was structurally complete and well on the way toward her first mission. Yet unlike […]

'In A Real Flight Environment': 40 Years Since Enterprise Took the Shuttle From Ground to Air (Part 1)

NASA’s Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) is pictured here with Shuttle Enterprise during the first of the shuttle program’s Approach and Landing Tests (ALT) at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in summer 1977. Photo Credit: NASA

When we think of the space shuttle, we think of the five spaceworthy orbiter vehicles—Columbia, Challenger, […]