* Irene's Country Corner * - Men in Space



Men in Space


On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia, the first space shuttle to fly in orbit, exploded 40 miles above Earth, just 16 min before its scheduled landing, killing its crew of seven astronauts.

One week before the disaster, it was the 17th anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, in which seven astronauts were also killed.


 Created by Jaime from www.cometcreations.com

Men has explored space for over 45 years. The term "astronaut" derives from the Greek words meaning "space sailor," and refers to all who have been launched as crew members aboard NASA spacecraft bound for orbit and beyond. The term "cosmonaut" refers to those space sailors who are members of the Russian space program.

 The Sputnik I was the first man-made earth satellite. It was launched by U.S.S.R. on October, 4 1957 and remained in orbit until January 4, 1958, when it reentered the atmosphere and disintegrated.

The Sputnik II, the world's second man-made satellite, was launched by U.S.S.R. on November, 3 1957, carrying a dog named Laika, and remained in orbit until April 13, 1958. It was the first vehicle to carry a living organism into orbit.

On January, 31 1958, Explorer I, the first U.S. earth satellite, was launched.

Columbia was NASA's first airplane-like craft. It was delivered to Kennedy Space Center in March 1979. Columbia initiated the Space Shuttle flight program when it lifted off at Kennedy Space Center on April 12, 1981, at 7:00:03 a.m. EST. The shuttle landed successfully two days later on April 14, 1981, at 10:20:57 a.m. PST. It had only two crew members (commander John W. Young and pilot Robert L. Crippen).

From 1981 onwards, space shuttles were sent to space, with the exception of 1987. The Columbia's last mission was NASA's 113th Space Shuttle flight to space.

Columbia was named after a small sailing vessel that operated out of Boston in 1792 and explored the mouth of the Columbia River. One of the first ships of the U.S. Navy to circumnavigate the globe was also named Columbia.

On January 16, 2003, at 10:39 a.m. EST, Columbia was launched for the last time with a crew of seven people (Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla and Ilan Ramon). It was destroyed over east Texas on its landing descent to Kennedy Space Center on February 1, 2003, at 8:59 a.m. EST.

I scanned this picture from a postcard I bought at Kennedy Space Center Florida in 1984.

 Challenger, was the second orbiter to become operational at Kennedy Space Center. It was named after the British Naval research vessel HMS Challenger that sailed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the 1870's.

Challenger joined NASA fleet of reusable winged spaceships in July 1982. It flew nine successful Space Shuttle missions.

 Challenger space shuttle on its first flight

Challenger's first flight (the 6th Shuttle Mission to space) was on April 4, 1983, at 1:30:00 p.m. EST. It landed successfully on April 9, 1983, at 10:53:42 a.m. PST.

On January 28, 1986, the Challenger and its seven-member crew (Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judy Resnik, Elison Onizuka, Ron McNair, Greg Jarvis and Christa McAullife) were lost 73 seconds after it lifted off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, at 11:38 a.m ET, disintegrating over the Atlantic Ocean , when a booster failure resulted in the breakup of the vehicle. It was the 25th Shuttle Mission to space and Challenger's 10th liftoff.

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

October 1, 1958, was the official start of NASA. NASA’s first high profile program was Project Mercury, an effort to learn if humans could survive in space, followed by Project Gemini. NASA’s human space flight efforts then extended to the Moon with Project Apollo, culminating in 1969 when the Apollo 11 mission first put humans on the lunar surface. NASA' manned programs were: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, and the Space Shuttles (Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour).

The first American space flight involving human beings happened on May 5, 1961 with the Mercury Program. The first U.S. spaceship was a cone-shaped one-man capsule with a cylinder mounted on top. Freedom 7, the first piloted Mercury spacecraft carrying Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., was launched from Cape Canaveral. His flight lasted 14.8 minutes.

On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to circle the Earth, making three orbits aboard Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft.

The Mercury Program made 6 flights (from May 5, 1961 to May 16, 1963). The spaceships that were part of this program were Freedom 7 (May 5, 1961); Liberty Bell 7 (July 21, 1961); Friendship 7 (Feb. 20, 1962); Aurora 7 (May 24, 1962); Sigma 7 (Oct. 3, 1962) and Faith 7 (May 15-16, 1963). Each of the Mercury spaceships carried one astronaut only.

The Gemini Program made 10 flights (from March 23, 1965 to Nov. 15, 1966). Each of the Gemini spacecrafts were built for two astronauts.

The Apollo Program sent missions to space from October 11, 1968 to December 19, 1972. It was designed to land humans on the Moon and bring them safely back to Earth. The Apollo Program included uncrewed test missions and 11 crewed missions (Apollos 1 - in which the three-member crew died in an accident before the scheduled liftoff - 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17). Six of the Apollo missions (Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17) landed men on the lunar surface.

The 11 crewed missions of the Apollo Program include two Earth orbiting missions, two lunar orbiting missions, a lunar swingby and six Moon landing missions.

The first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11 lifted off on July 16, 1969 for a three day trip to the Moon. At 4:18 p.m. EST on July 20, 1969, the Lunar Module named "Eagle" with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, landed on the lunar surface while Michael Collins orbited overhead in the Apollo command module.

On January 27, 1967, tragedy struck the Apollo program. Astronauts Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee died during a blaze inside their Apollo capsule while conducting a countdown test on January 27, 1967 – three weeks before their scheduled liftoff from Kennedy Space Center.

After the tragedy the Apollo spacecraft was redesigned with an emphasis on fireproof materials. The first piloted Apollo mission, Apollo 7, took place in October 1968.

In April 1970, Apollo 13 was unable to land on the lunar surface, and ended in near disaster when oxygen tank 2 exploded 55 hours into the mission. Using the lunar module as a lifeboat, the three-member crew was able to return safely to earth.

The Skylab Program made 3 flights (from May 25, 1973 to Feb. 8, 1974). Each of the Skylab spacecrafts carried three astronauts, sending a total of 9 astronauts to space.

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) made 1 flight sending 3 men to space (July 15-24, 1975).

The 5 Space Shuttles (Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour), made from April 12, 1981 to January 16, 2003, a total of 113 flights, not including Challenger's lift off which ended in its explosion in 1986.


 The space shuttle Columbia made 29 flights (in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003).

The space shuttle Challenger made 9 flights (in 1983, 1984 and 1985) and one liftoff that ended in the disaster in 1986.

The space shuttle Discovery made 30 flights (in 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001).

The space shuttle Atlantis made 26 flights (in 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2002)

The space shuttle Endeavour made 19 flights (in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002).

The Kennedy Space Center, located at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida, is the place where the checkout, launch and landing of the Space Shuttles are done. I was there twice, in 1981 and in 1984.

My aunt, her mother-in-law, a cousin and me at Kennedy Space Center, FL.

Me and three cousins at Kennedy Space Center, FL, in July 1984.


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This page was created on: February 18, 2003.

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