A spaceship named Enterprise had its first free flight as part of testing for the Space Shuttle on this day in history.
The Space Shuttle Enterprise was used for a series of Approach & Landing tests to give astronauts and NASA researchers a chance to evaluate how the ship called the “flying brick” would glide to a landing upon returning from space. The first free flight would take place on August 12th, 1977.
The Enterprise was taken into the skies attached to a specially-modified Boeing 747 jet. It then detached from the jet. The first flight had a nosecone covering where the engines would be and would land on a lakebed instead of a normal runway.
Fred Haise Jr. and C. Gordon Fullerton were the crew of the first flight. The orbiter achieved speeds of over 300 hours on a successful mission.
Four more free flights would take place, before the shuttle Columbia became the first shuttle to fly into space years later.
Twenty years ago today, a Space Shuttle mission with a variety of scientific experiments was launched into orbit.
STS-94 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission with the orbiter Columbia. It was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on July 1st, 1997.
It featured a crew of 7, led by Commander James Halsell. Interestingly, the crew was identical to the one on STS-83, the only time to date that a spaceflight featuring more than one astronaut had identical crews. 83 had to be cut short due to fuel issues.
STS-94 featured the Microgravity Science Laboratory mission, which had a variety of experiments done inside a European Space Agency module. These dealt with everything from metals to combustion and more.
The 16 day mission was a success, with Columbia landing back on Earth on July 17th, 1997.
A shuttle mission that took a satellite into space was launched on this day in space history.
STS-29 was a shuttle mission featuring the orbiter Discovery that was launched on March 13th, 1989.
The crew included 5 members: Commander Michael Coats, Pilot John Blaha and three mission specialists–Robert Springer, James Buchlim and James Bagian.
The main goal of the 4+ day mission was to launch the TDRS-4 satellite into orbit. The TDRS, or Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, is used by the government to communicate with other satellites, aircraft, the space station, and even bases on the South Pole. This particualar satellite lasted until deactivation late in 2011.
Other experiments involving chicken eggs and crystal growth took place onboard. Also, an IMAX camera was used to film some scenes for the Blue Planet feature.
The Discovery safely landed on the 18th of March back on Earth.