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 […]

'Cutting Edge': Remembering STS-62, 25 Years On

Tropical Storm Owen vividly backdrops Columbia’s silhouetted payload bay, aft bulkhead and vertical stabilizer during STS-62. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century ago, this week, five astronauts aboard shuttle Columbia sailed through a mission which their launch announcer had earlier described as “the cutting edge of microgravity research”. STS-62 Commander John […]

'Quite a Feeling of Being Alone': 25 Years Since Endeavour's Vanilla-to-Chocolate STS-54 Mission

The base of the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), carrying the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, departs Endeavour on 13 January 1993. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty-five years ago, this week, the crew of STS-54 settled into orbit for one of the shortest shuttle missions of the decade, tasked with deploying the […]

'An Amazing and Wonderful Experience': 20 Years Since STS-77’s Record-Setting Rendezvous Mission (Part 2)

STS-77’s primary cargoes dominate this view of Endeavour’s payload bay in orbit. In the foreground is the Spacehab-4 module, with SPARTAN-207 visible in the background. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty years ago this week, six men orbited Earth aboard Shuttle Endeavour on one of the most complex research flights ever conducted […]

'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 […]

Now You Don't: 25 Years Since the Mysterious Mission of STS-36 (Part 2)

Atlantis rockets into the night on 28 February 1990, headed for the shuttle’s first “dogleg” maneuver and the highest orbital inclination ever attained by a U.S. piloted spacecraft. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century has now passed since one of the quietest missions in the shuttle’s 30-year operational history. On 28 […]

Now You See It: 25 Years Since the Mysterious Mission of STS-36 (Part 1)

The official crew patch for shuttle mission STS-36, which launched 25 years ago today, on 28 February 1990. Image Credit: NASA

Something strange happened in March 1990. Ground-based observers were busy tracking the orbital progress of a classified Department of Defense payload, recently deployed by the crew of Shuttle Atlantis on STS-36—Commander John […]

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 […]

'Vanilla to Chocolate': The Changing Mission of STS-54

The American eagle delivers a fifth star, representing the fifth operational Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS), in the STS-54 crew patch. Image Credit: NASA

When the STS-54 shuttle crew released their official crew patch in the summer of 1992, they paid tribute to two important payloads aboard their mission. The first was […]