The Shuttle’s Glory and Tragedy

Over three decades and 113 flights,

the winged craft has made history

but also brought disaster and controversy

January 5, 1972

President Richard M. Nixon orders the development of a reusable space shuttle that can take off like a rocket, orbit the earth and land like an airplane. As approved, the program calls for a vehicle that is smaller and less expensive than initially envisioned.

April 12, 1881

The first shuttle, Columbia, is launched into space.

The flight lasts slightly more than two days;

its purpose is primarily to test the spacecraft’s systems.

June 18, 1983

Sally Ride, traveling on Challenger,

becomes 1st American woman in space. The crew deploys

two communications satellites.

August 30, 1983

Guion Bluford, aboard Challenger,

becomes 1st African American in space.

November 28, 1983

Columbia ferries into orbit the 1st Spacelab,

a modular collection of experiments designed by NASA

and the European Space Agency. Then returns to earth.

( total of 24 Spacelab missions would be flown with

various partners over the next 14 years)

February 7, 1984

Bruce McCandless makes the 1st untethered space walk,

from Challenger

January 28, 1986

Challenger, with teacher Christa McAuliffe aboard,

explodes 73 seconds after lift-off.

Investigators determine that rubber rings in a

solid rocket booster turned brittle during a cold snap,

allowing gases to burn through and detonate the external fuel tank.

September 29, 1988

After the entire fleet was grounded for almost three years,

shuttle Discovery returns to space.


May 4, 1989

Shuttle Atlantis lifts the unmanned spacecraft Magellan into orbit, from which it is successfully launched on its 15-month journey to Venus.

October 18, 1989

Atlantis ferries the spacecraft Galileo into orbit.

Six years later, it becomes the 1st man-made probe to orbit Jupiter.

Critics had voiced concern that Galileo’s plutonium power source might release radioactive debris in the event of a shuttle accident, but NASA points out that Galileo’s power source is designed to survive a fiery re-entry intact.

April 26, 1990

Discovery releases the Hubble space telescope.

Scientists determine that the telescope’s mirror is flawed, and in a subsequent flight in December 1993, astronauts execute a complicated

series of space walks to replace Hubble’s optics. The repairs enable the telescope to produce stunning images like one of the Eagle nebula.

May 7, 1992

Shuttle Endeavour, built to replace Challenger, takes its 1st flight.

June 29, 1995

Atlantis is the 1st shuttle to dock with Russian space station Mir.

October 29, 1998

Senator John Glenn, who in 1962 became the 1st American to orbit the earth in a Mercury capsule, returns to space aboard Discovery at the age of 77.

December 4, 1998

The crew of Endeavour begins assembly of the International Space Station.

February 1, 2003

Twenty-Two (22) years after its 1st flight in space, Columbia breaks up on re-entry to Earth.

Source: TIME, February 10, 2003

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Church of the Science of GOD, 1993
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