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Sally Ride: A Source of Inspiration

Whenever someone meets me, it doesn’t take them long to ask me the question, “How did you get so into space?” Given that I’ve likely just worked the space shuttle into a conversation about owls or mentioned a solar flare as part of ordering a pizza, it’s not surprising. It could have been all the…

Space Shuttle Discovery’s Salute to the National Mall

  We knew Discovery had arrived when the large crowd waiting on the National Mall for the historic final flypast of the iconic Space Shuttle let out a collective cheer. The spacecraft was bolted to the top of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Boeing 747 flying low along the Potomac River, following the flightpath familiar to…

Was that America? The shuttle Discovery, as seen from afar.

By Chris Combs  for Breaking Orbit This is how it ended: We drove a few more miles, parked the car, stopped in at Cosmic Coffee for a cup of joe, and watched a bright speck sear its way out of sight. About a year ago, my partner, Rachel, and I had heard the nearly thirty-year-old…

“Go” for Final Launch of Discovery

By Susan Poultonfor Breaking Orbit   As far as space shuttle launches go, it doesn’t get much better than this. Tanking of Space Shuttle Discovery began on time at 7:25 am ET this morning, getting it ready for its final flight scheduled for 4:50pm ET this afternoon. The weather forecast has been upgraded to a…

A Challenger Tribute, 25 Years in the Making

Twenty-five years ago today, seven astronauts embarked on NASA’s 25th space shuttle mission, on January 28, 1986. The shuttle Challenger lifted off from Launch Complex 39-B at Kennedy Space Center at 11:38 a.m. local time. Then, 73 seconds into the flight of STS-51L, the shuttle was engulfed in a cloud of vapor as it began…

Last Chance to Vote for Discovery’s Wakeup Songs

The space shuttle Discovery is slated to launch on its final mission this week, and that means voting will soon close on NASA’s Space Rock contest. —Image courtesy NASA As we reported back in August, it’s been a tradition since the Apollo program to rouse slumbering astronauts with music selected either by flight controllers or…

Remembering Space Bat

It’s almost Halloween, and it’s almost the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery. These two events have me thinking about Space Bat. It’s been more than a year since Discovery lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with a small bat clinging to its external fuel tank. —Image courtesy NASA The animal, according to…

Discovery’s Last Ride

By Susan Poultonfor Breaking Orbit Space Shuttle Discovery rolled out to the launch pad for the final time tonight, with first motion out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) coming 30 minutes early at 7:23pm ET, beneath a stunning sunset. Hundreds of employees gathered to watch the event and cheer on Discovery as they watched…

In Memoriam: Astronaut William “Bill” Lenoir

William Lenoir, an astronaut who flew aboard the first space shuttle mission to deploy commercial satellites, died August 26 from head injuries sustained during a bicycle accident. —Image courtesy NASA Born March 14, 1939, in Miami, Florida, Lenoir earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ultimately graduating with a Ph.D. in electrical…

Astronaut Idol: NASA Calls for Space Shuttle Wakeup Songs

Since the heady days of the Apollo program, NASA has asked friends and family of astronauts to select “wakeup music” for slumbering spacefarers. Astronaut Gregory C. Johnson rests in his sleeping bag on the space shuttle Atlantis in May 2009. —Picture courtesy NASA After all, sunrises are a dime a dozen in low-Earth orbit, and…

What Does It Take to Be an Astronaut?

That was the most asked question during an event this morning at the National Air and Space Museum featuring the crew of STS-132, the final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station. A student asks a question of the STS-132 crew. —Image by Eric Long/NASM Well, the final “scheduled” flight, anyway.…

Final Space Shuttle Launches Delayed

NASA announced today that they’ve officially decided to postpone the final two space shuttle launches, pushing Discovery’s launch to November and the [supposed] last-ever shuttle launch featuring Endeavour to February 2011. For followers of the intrepid space agency, news of the delay—or any delay, really—will surely come as no surprise. Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off…

Astro_Soichi Comes Back to Earth

Barring only the Hubble Space Telescope, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi may go down in history as the most beloved orbiting space photographer. Bye! The Yokohama native spent just over five months as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station, returning to Earth today via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. That’s the longest time any Japanese…

Space Shuttle Launch Coverage: Launch

By Susan Poulton for Breaking Orbit Space Shuttle Atlantis is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) in a spectacular on time launch from Kennedy Space Center at 2:20pm ET. This marks the 32nd and final launch for the shuttle Atlantis who had its maiden voyage on October 3, 1985. Cheers and applause…

Space Shuttle Launch Coverage: All Aboard!

By Susan Poulton for Breaking Orbit The crew is now on board and completing their communication checks and the hatch has been closed. Liftoff of Atlantis is still on schedule for 2:20pm ET with the weather forecast holding steady at 70%. There’s still a slight chance of a low cloud ceiling over the launch pad…