What’s the first thing you think about when you think of NASA’s space shuttle program? Sally Ride? Spinning in microgravity? The Challenger explosion? That episode of the Simpsons? You might not think about the US military and intelligence community launching spy satellites, but you should. NASA’s shuttles were…
With his passing earlier today, John Glenn is being remembered as not only the first American to orbit the Earth, but also the oldest. Here’s why NASA sent a 77-year-old man into space, and how his historic trip set space science forward.
Wonder Bread is already semi-miraculous: It’s impossibly soft, sweet, and shelf-stable. But unlocking the true potential inside this fluffy stuff results in a substance nearly impervious to heat and electricity, not dissimilar from what used to cover the exterior of spacecraft.
How long does it take to transport a 15-story long space shuttle fuel tank through Los Angeles? According to the trip one took yesterday, around 19 hours.
What’s worse than a broken space-toilet? A broken space-toilet when it’s your very first shift as boss, and suddenly you have to work on the logistics of either getting it fixed or landing your astronauts in Africa. This is Flight Director Rob Kelso’s first-hand account of the narrowly-averted shitstorm.
A mahogany wind tunnel for testing spacecraft aerodynamics is just too delightfully steampunk for real life. Or is it a real-life simulation of a 1980s-style overly-exuberant display of photographic superposition?
What happens to a space shuttle if the main engine never fires during launch? NASA researchers tested for that in this scale-model test May 1988. The answer? It’s not exactly catastrophic, but it sure means no one is going to space that day.
May 27, 1999: The Space Shuttles were always pretty, but this launch of Discovery was a particularly gorgeous start to the first mission to dock with the International Space Station.
August 30, 1983: It’s never a good sign when nature gets too involved in a rocket launch. This lightning storm put on a spectacular display during rainy skies the morning before Challenger blasted off in the first pre-dawn launch of the space shuttle program.
At the time the space shuttle program ended, the three remaining shuttles had flown 25, 33, and 39 times respectively. They were designed for a lifetime of 100 flights each.
Where did the records for the tiles lining the space shuttle disappear to? The database on the life of each and every one of the 24,000 tiles has itself gone missing. In some cases, NASA still has tabs on the tiles themselves, but some have made their way out into the world, both deliberately or on the black market.
One day before the unfortunate SpaceX launch failure—which proved once again that space is hard—a new, deeply saddening but inspiring exhibition was opened at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
Russian photographer and urban explorer Ralph Mirebs just published one of the saddest photoseries on space exploration. He managed to get inside an abandoned hangar at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where two Burans—the prototype space shuttles of the Russian space program—are slowly decaying in their burial crypt.
Astronaut Daniel T. Barry thinks NASA's mission to Mars is humanity's most important endeavor yet, for reasons including the birth of Captain Kirk. We talked to him about what it's like to explore the Final Frontier.
It's a great American tradition. When something is old and less useful than it once was, we just tear it down to make room for new and more useful things. That's exactly what's happened to the Mate-Demate Device (MDD) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. It used to mount Space Shuttles on 747s. Now it's scrap metal.
On this day in 1975, the venerable X-24B, an experimental aircraft that paved the way for the Space Shuttle's lifting body design, made its 36th and final test flight in the skies over southern California. To honor that aviation milestone, here is the story of how the plane came to be.
There are very strict weight limitations on what astronauts can bring with them when they blast off into space. But in addition to a few creature comforts, we sincerely hope that NASA, and other space agencies around the world, will be equipping their brave space farers with these adorable plush Space Shuttle slippers.
Here's a simple visual exercise you can do to get a better feel for the approximate living area inside one of our amazingly complex and now-retired space shuttles.
The stories told of ancient beings so powerful that they could fling themselves into space and explore the points of light in the heavens. When Lady Adelaide moved into one of their unused crafts, many called it blasphemy. She called it research.
You are looking at the second of the two Boeing 747 space shuttle carriers being taken to its resting place at the Joe Davies Heritage Airpark, in Palmdale, California. After two decades ferrying the space shuttles across the country, the two legendary aircraft are now retired.