15 Years Ago (Yesterday) in Space

I missed blogging about yesterday’s space anniversary, since I’ve been working on an NCSU-IES project this weekend. And since I haven’t come up with anything better, here goes:

15 years ago yesterday — on October 18, 1993 — Space Shuttle Columbia launched on mission STS-58 launched from the Kennedy Space Center. The crew, John E. Blaha, Richard A. Searfoss, M. Rhea Seddon, William S. McArthur, Jr., David A. Wolf, Shannon W. Lucid, and Martin J. Fettman, performed experiments on how the human body adapts to the “weightless” (i.e., the free fall) environment of space.

Now, back to work. [shrug]

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Space History, and We Were There

Twenty years ago today, the Space Shuttle Discovery landed on Runway 17 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, after the “return to flight” mission following the loss of Challenger. It just so happens that we were stationed at Edwards at the time, and got to see it.

Later, I was on the Air Force Flight Test Center shuttle recovery team, and worked four shuttle landings as part of the crew that would help extract astronauts in an emergency. For this landing, though, I was just a spectator — which was, in itself, pretty cool.

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Shuttle Return to Flight — 20 Years Ago Today

On September 29, 1988, Space Shuttle Discovery launched on mission STS-26, the first mission after the loss of the Challenger two years earlier. Astronauts Fred Hauck, Dick Covey, John Lounge, David Hilmers, and George Nelson successfully deployed Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-3. You can read more about the mission here.

In more recent space news, yesterday the SpaceX company had the first successful launch of their Falcon-1 booster. Congratulations!

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Progress Report and Space History

MARE NUBIUM, my novel of lunar colonization and survival, is now 70,000 words long. I have six weeks left if I’m going to finish the thing by Halloween. I need to pick up the pace.

On the space history front, 45 years ago today — September 18, 1963 — the lifting body demonstrator “ASSET-1” (a precursor to the Space Shuttle) flew to an altitude of 35 miles at the Eastern Space & Missile Center. You can read about the ASSET program on this Air Force fact sheet or this Wikipedia page.

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15 Years Ago in Space

On September 12, 1993, the Space Shuttle Discovery launched on mission STS-51. Astronauts Frank L. Culbertson, Jr., William F. Readdy, James H. Newman, Daniel W. Bursch, and Carl E. Walz made up the crew.

Details of the mission, including the scrubbed launch attempts starting in July, are on this page.

The crew deployed two payloads: the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) and the Orbiting and Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrograph-Shuttle Pallet Satellite (OERFEUS-SPAS). The mission lasted nine days — a day longer than scheduled because of adverse weather at the Kennedy Space Center landing site.

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25 Years Ago, in Space

On August 30, 1983, the Space Shuttle Challenger launched on mission STS-8. Astronauts Richard Truly, Daniel Brandenstein, Dale Gardner, Guion Bluford (first U.S. black man in space), and William Thornton made up the crew. The mission launched the Insat-1B satellite (a multipurpose satellite for India) and was the first shuttle launch in the dark and the first shuttle landing in the dark.

Other mission highlights (edited into bullet format),

– the nose of orbiter was held away from the sun for 14 hours to test the flight deck area in extreme cold
– the crew filmed performance of an experimental heat pipe mounted in the cargo bay
– the orbiter dropped to 139 miles altitude to perform tests on thin atomic oxygen to identify the cause of glow that surrounds parts of the orbiter at night
– the remote manipulator system was tested to evaluate joint reactions to higher loads
– six rats were flown in the Animal Enclosure Module to observe animal reactions in space
– testing was conducted between the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-I (TDRS-1) and the orbiter using a Ku-band antenna
– investigations continued on the Space Adaptation Syndrome


In other news, Dragon*Con is going fine. I got to visit with several of my writing friends at supper last night, and I’ll be leaving in a little while for Day 2 (featuring the ever-popular Baen slide show).

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