The Space Shuttle Challenger, Endeavor, & Columbia By: Amanda Gilliam
Space Shuttle In the early 1970s, plans for a reusable space shuttle were started. A fully reusable manned booster and orbiter were engineered to lower development costs and technical risks. On March 15, 1972, NASA announced that the shuttle would consist of two solid propellant rocket motors that provide most of the shuttle’s life during the first two minutes of the flight, the orbiter which houses the crew, and a large external fuel tank which holds fuel for the main engines. It is released after the fuel is used and burns up in the atmosphere. It’s the only portion of the shuttle that has to be replaced after each launch, unless something is damaged. A shuttle can carry large satellites to and from orbit, and it’s designed to fly at least 100 missions. It launches like a rocket, maneuvers in Earth’s orbit like a spacecraft, and lands like an airplane. The first one was the Enterprise in 1976, which was used for testing and was unmanned for 13 flights.
On January 28, 1986, the STS-51L Space Shuttle Challenger was launched after many delays. The weather had been very cold the night before, helping cause an o-ring to fail in the right rocket booster. At .678 seconds during the flight gray smoke came from one of the joints in the right solid rocket booster. This meant that the joint was not completely sealed. More smoke appeared as the flight continued and at 2.7 seconds the smoke coming from the rocket booster appeared to stop. From 37-64 seconds in they encountered wind shear conditions which caused the steering system to be used more than in any earlier flight. At 58.8 seconds the first small flame appeared, and breached the external tank 64.7 seconds into the flight. Beginning at 72 seconds parts started to pull away. The hydrogen tank’s structure failed, causing liquid hydrogen to spill and burn almost explosively. 73 seconds after takeoff an explosion terminated the Challenger and its crew.
The crew consisted of Commander Francis R. Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Judith A. Resnik, Ellison S. Onizuka, Ronald E. McNair and Payload Specialists Gregory B. Jarvis and Sharon Christa McAuliffe. Mission objectives were:
see if the TDRS-B satellite was ready to be launched, and then deploy it.
check and deploy Spartan, moving away from it, then rendezvous and use the robot arm to bring it back aboard.
They were suppose to land after 144 hours, 34 minutes in space.
On December 2, 1993, Endeavour was launched to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, (objective) which at the time was suffering from near-sightedness. It took five back-to-back spacewalks a total of 35 hours and 28 minutes to fix. They replaced gyroscopes, solar panels, scientific instruments, and enhanced optics. They landed after eleven days, and everything went well. The Hubble Telescope was in good shape. Crew: Commander: Richard O. Covey, Pilot: Kenneth D. Bowersox, Payload Commander: F. Story Musgrave, Mission Specialist 1: Kathryn C. Thornton, Mission Specialist 2: Claude Nicollier, Mission Specialist 3: Jeffrey A. Hoffman, Mission Specialist 5: Thomas D. Akers
Columbia Columbia’s debris on a grid. One of it’s main engine power heads.
On January 16, 2003, Columbia went on an international space flight and didn’t go to the International Space Station. They were on a 16 day scientific research trip to test experiments in space. On February 1, at 9 am NASA lost contact. During launch a piece of foam that insulated the external fuel tank came off and hit the orbiter soon after. It damaged a wing and some heat tiles. During reentry the temperature sensor went off and Columbia exploded at 8 am. It was suppose to land at 8:16 am. The crew and ship were lost over Texas. Almost 85,000 pieces of debris were shipped to the Kennedy Space Center to try to put it back together, but it was only 38% of the orbiter. The shuttle was doomed from launch because even if they found the damage there was nothing they could do to fix it. They were in the wrong orbit to go to the International Space Station so they would’ve been stuck in space anyway.
Crew: Willie McCool – Commander, MichealAnderson – Pilot, KalpanaChawla - Payload Commander, David Brown - Mission Specialist, Laurel Clark - Mission Specialist, IlanRamon - Mission Specialist, Rick Husband - Crew Commander.
Citations Dumoulin, J. (2008). STS-61 (59). Retrieved from http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/sts-61/mission-sts-61.html Mission Summary and Crew Info. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oracle Think Quest: http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/01882/r_columbia_disaster.htm Ryba, J. (n.d.). Space Shuttle STS-51L. Retrieved from Nasa: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/archives/sts-51L.html Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster. (2000). Retrieved from http://www.aerospaceguide.net/spaceshuttle/columbia_disaster.html