Summer of the Shuttle: Remembering the Ill-Fated Summer of '84

An ominous cloud of smoke billows away from Pad 39A in the seconds after a problematic Main Engine Start on 26 June 1984. Photo Credit: NASA

More than 30 summers ago, America’s shuttle program should have entered its prime. Touted for over a decade as capable of flying regularly and routinely, the early […]

'Broken at the Boom': 20 Years Since STS-75 (Part 2)

Spectacular view of Columbia’s payload bay and aft compartment, during STS-75. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Two decades ago, Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed into orbit carrying one of the most unusual experiments on record: the reflight of the Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1R). It was intended to demonstrate the “electrodynamics” of a conducting […]

'A Little Adrenaline Rush': 20 Years Since STS-75 (Part 1)

The STS-75 crew pose for their official portrait. Seated are Pilot Scott “Doc” Horowitz, Commander Andy Allen, and Payload Commander Franklin Chang-Diaz, with Maurizo Cheli, Umberto Guidoni, Jeff Hoffman, and Claude Nicollier standing. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed into orbit carrying one of the most unusual experiments on […]

'You Need to Hear All the Notes': 25 Years Since STS-35 (Part 2)

Stunning perspective of Namibia, as viewed by the STS-35 crew, 25 years ago, in December 1990. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Had history smiled with more favor, ASTRO-1 might have taken place almost three decades ago, but the space shuttle’s first mission totally dedicated to astrophysics was repeatedly delayed in the aftermath […]

'Like Night Flying in an Airplane': 25 Years Since STS-35 (Part 1)

But for the tragic loss of Challenger, the ASTRO-1 mission might have flown just five weeks later, in March 1986. As circumstances transpired, it would be more than four years before the mission rose into orbit. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century ago, this week, four powerful ultraviolet and X-ray “eyes” […]

Top Ten US EVA Missions of All Time: No. 3—’Repackage Our Margin’

Astronaut Story Musgrave is positioned to replace components at the end of Endeavour’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm on STS-61 in December 1993. Photo Credit: NASA

More than two decades have passed since one of the most spectacular EVA missions in U.S. history: the long-awaited first servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope […]

'Vide Mater, Sine Manibus': 30 Years Since Shuttle Mission 51D (Part 2)

Spacewalkers Jeff Hoffman and Dave Griggs work to outfit a makeshift fly swatter onto the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm, in a fruitless attempt to activate Syncom 4-3’s deploy switch. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, next week, the crew of Mission 51D watched open-mouthed as a powerful communications satellite which they […]

'It's Gonna Be Great': 30 Years Since Shuttle Mission 51D (Part 1)

Spacewalkers Jeff Hoffman and Dave Griggs work to outfit a makeshift fly swatter onto the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm, in a fruitless attempt to activate Syncom 4-3’s deploy switch. Photo Credit: NASA

None of the 135 missions flown by NASA’s five-strong fleet of shuttle orbiters between April 1981 and July 2011 […]

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 […]

The Flight That Wasn't: 30 Years Since the Unflown Mission 51E (Part 2)

In its third incarnation, the mission of Karol “Bo” Bobko finally takes flight on 12 April 1985. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Three decades ago, the shuttle program appeared bulletproof. In 1984, astronauts embarked on untethered EVAs, deployed satellites and performed scientific research, retrieved and repaired the crippled Solar Max observatory, and […]