Shuttle Mission highlights

by Chris Bergin

Throughout the years, space shuttle missions (designated “STS” for “space transportation system”) have become so common that their many accomplishments may be overlooked. Here are some of the more memorable and historic shuttle missions, in chronological order:
* April 1981, STS-1 Columbia — The first space suttle to go into orbit, opening a new era in manned space exploration.

* November 1981, STS-2 Columbia — First shuttle mission to carry a scientific payload and utilize the remote manipulator arm.

* June 1983, STS-7 Challenger — Sally Ride becomes the first U.S. woman to fly into space.

* August-September 1983, STS-8 Challenger — Guion Bluford becomes the first black American in space.

* November-December 1983, STS-9 Columbia — Space Lab is deployed.

* February 1984, STS-41-B Challenger — Bruce McCandless uses a manned maneuvering unit to perform the first untethered spacewalk.

* April 1984, STS-41-C Challenger –The Solar Max Satellite becomes the first object retrieved and repaired in orbit.

* August-September 1984, STS-41-D Discovery — Payload specialist Charles Walker becomes the first non-astronaut crew member.

* October 1984, STS-41-G Challenger — Kathryn Sullivan becomes the first US woman to perform a spacewalk. Also the first time a space shuttle has a seven-member crew.

* January 1986, STS-51-L Challenger –The space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after liftoff, killing all seven on board, including teacher Christa McAuliffe. The shuttle program is suspended pending investigation.

* September-October 1988, STS-26 Discovery — First shuttle mission after the Challenger accident.

* April 1990, STS-31 Discovery — The Hubble Space Telescope is placed in orbit.

* September 1990, STS-47 Endeavour — Mae Jemison becomes the first black American female in space. The first married couple, Mark Lee and Jan Davis, fly in space together.

* April 1993, STS-56 Discovery — Ellen Ochoa becomes the first Hispanic woman in space.

* December 1993, STS-61 Endeavour — First servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, repairing a flaw in the telescope’s main mirror. In the process, a record for the longest spacewalk is set.

* June-July 1995, STS-71 Atlantis — The 100th U.S. human space launch sees the first in-orbit exchange of crew members with the inaugural shuttle/Mir docking.

* November-December 1996, STS-80 Columbia — The longest shuttle mission: 423 hours and 53 minutes.

* February 1997, STS-82 Discovery — Second servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

* May 1997, STS-84 Atlantis — The sixth Atlantis/Mir mission, where astronauts are challenged with repairing problems on Mir.

* October-November 1998, STS-95 Discovery — At 77, original Mercury astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn returns to orbit, becoming the oldest person to go into space. He participates in studies on the effects of weightlessness on aging.

* July 1999, STS-93 Columbia — Eileen Collins becomes the first female shuttle commander, with the mission successfully placing the Chandra X-Ray Observatory in orbit. This mission almost undergoes an emergency abort because Columbia leaks more than 4,000 pounds of hydrogen fuel on takeoff.

* December 1999, STS-103 Discovery — First part of the third servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (SM3A).

* October 2000, STS-92 Discovery — The 100th space shuttle mission, which installs a structural truss on the International Space Station.

* February 2001, STS-98 Atlantis — Thomas Jones and Robert Curbeam perform the 100th American spacewalk, installing the science laboratory Destiny to the International Space Station.

* December 2001, STS-108 Endeavour — The first shuttle launch after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Six thousand small flags are carried aboard the shuttle as a tribute to the casualties and their families.

* March 2002, STS-109 Columbia — Second part of the third servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (SM3B). With its maiden voyage of April 1981, this mission marks Columbia’s third decade of service and makes it the oldest ship in the fleet.

* February 2003, STS-107 Columbia — The space shuttle Columbia breaks apart 200,000 feet over Texas, killing all seven on board, including the first Israeli astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon.

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