Hank Hartsfield, Shuttle Discovery's First Commander, Dies Aged 80

Hank Hartsfield (left), pictured with crewmate Ken Mattingly, shortly before the launch of STS-4 in June 1982. Photo Credit: NASA

Former NASA astronaut Hank Hartsfield, a veteran of three shuttle missions in the early 1980s—including command of the maiden voyage of the fleet leader, Discovery—passed away earlier today (Thursday, 17 July), reportedly due […]

'Like Drowned Rats': 30 Years Since the Maiden Countdown of Discovery (Part 2)

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 Redundant Set Launch Sequencer (RSLS) abort. Photo Credit: NASA

“ … We have a Go for main engine start … ”

The preparations proceeded remarkably […]

'Silent, Except for the Wind': 30 Years Since the Maiden Countdown of Discovery (Part 1)

Thirty years ago, this week, Discovery prepared for her maiden voyage and the third shuttle flight of 1984. On 26 June, it brought NASA face to face with the harsh nature of launching humans into space. Photo Credit: NASA

“T-31 seconds … We have a Go for autosequence start … Discovery’s computers now […]

'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 […]

Book Review: 'Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight'

The crew of STS-41D—launched in August 1984—boasted the commercial industry’s first astronaut, Charles Walker. He is pictured at top left (next to Judith Resnik). At bottom, crew members Mike Mullane, Steve Hawley, Hank Hartsfield, and Michael Coats smile for the camera. Photo Credit: NASA.

Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight was published […]