Contents

List of illustrations xiii

Preface xvii

Acknowledgements xix

1 "It will take a hundred flights ..." 1

The Astronauts' Astronaut 1

Birth pains 3

A calculated risk? 4

The butterfly and the bullet 5

The rocky road to STS-1 6

Software: the biggest stumbling block 10

Ride of a lifetime 11

Checking out Columbia 16

A spacious, spartan home-from-home 18

Return to California! 19

A race against time 23

Birthday thrills, spills and dirty windows 25

A halved mission 26

Flexing Canadarm's muscles 28

A scientific bounty 30

An ambitious mission 32

Space sickness 33

Substitution: IECM 'off, PDP 'on' 34

Pathfinder for Spacelab 35

A monster storm 39

Room for improvement 42

A quiet mission 46

Thermal tests 49

Tying up loose ends 50

Veil of secrecy 51

Date with the President 52

2 Columbia delivers 55

An unprotected crew 55

Space truck 57

The 'Ace Moving Company' 59

Spacewalking from the Shuttle 62

Practice for the Solar Max repair 64

Spacewalk cancelled 65

A hellish ride home 66

Spacelab: a multipurpose research facility 68

Spacelab-1: a 'free-for-all' mission 71

'Spacelab Only' modifications to Columbia 72

Assembly of Spacelab-1 72

A complex mission 73

Pilots: avoid the Spacelab! 78

Problems before re-entry 80

New mission, new number 82

A 'new' Columbia 84

A political flight 86

'Mission Impossible' 88

The curse of Steve Hawley 89

A triumphant start to a tragic year 92

Tough to launch, tougher to land 95

3 Recovery after Challenger 99

A busy year cut short 99

The 'Real Astronaut' look returns 102

Secret mission 103

A mysterious, 'flashing' satellite 104

Columbia back in business 106

An urgent mission 106

A leased satellite 107

Pushing the envelope 109

One down, one to go 110

What you saw was what you got 112

LDEF comes home 115

A mini-Spacelab mission 116

A record-setting flight 118

Well-weathered 119

Unfinished business 120

ASTRO-1: four powerful eyes on the Universe 122

An ambitious venture 124

Hydrogen leaks 125

ASTRO-1 comes alive 129

Success from failure 133

An earlier-than-planned landing 134

Return of Spacelab 135

A single-shift mission 138

A modern-day torture chamber 140

Rodent studies 141

First jellyfish in space 143

A contingency spacewalk? 143

4 Extended capbilities 147

A personal connection 147

The benefit of longer Shuttle missions 147

A scientific and psychological challenge 149

Crystal growth 153

RCRS problems 156

A steady mission 156

Fluid physics 158

Combustion research 161

Biotechnology 162

A fit and healthy crew 163

Half-full or half-empty? 166

A satellite for the past, present and future 167

Testing Nobel Prize science 168

Flight rules overruled 169

LAGEOS-2 deployment 170

'Telescience' put to the test 173

Preparing for space station operations 174

Columbia returns 'home' to KSC 177

''You wouldn't believe me!" 179

Mini-marathons 180

An important mission for Germany 181

A troubled road to space 183

Red lights in the cockpit 185

'There's only one Jerry Ross!' 188

A full plate of experiments 190

Torture chamber 192

Robotic experiments 193

An extended mission 195

John Blaha and the long road to SLS-2 196

A controversial flight 198

Off to work 200

A productive mission 205

Cool crew 208

USMP-2: long-term payoff 209

OAST-2: a technology testbed 213

Preparing for the space station 216

Solar studies 218

A superb scientific success 219

Two historic 'Columbias' 220

IML-2: an international triumph 221

Four Shuttles in Florida 223

A busy, around-the-clock mission 224

Practising for the space station 227

A smooth flight 232

Record-breakers! 233

5 Golden age 235

Overhaul 236

A difficult road to space 237

Seventh time lucky 239

Important government business for Fred Leslie 241

Crystal growth research 243

Growing crops in space 243

The 'big picture' 244

The strange behaviour of fluids in microgravity 246

Semiconductor factory in space 248

A flawless mission 250

Satellite on a string 251

Bad simulation run 253

Learning to walk 254

Bloodied noses 256

USMP-3: torchbearer of the 'Semiconductor Age' 260

Mission extended 261

The Middeck Glovebox 262

A bittersweet mission 264

Short-notice Spacelab 266

A worrying discovery 268

The busiest day 270

Fluid physics research 272

Medical experiments 274

Columbia's 'other' passengers 276

Record-breakers 277

Space station practice 278

ORFEUS-SPAS-2: a free-flying observatory 280

Booster concerns 282

WSF-3: an orbiting semiconductor factory 284

A shorter-than-planned free-flight 286

'Bionic eyes'? 287

''A little more elbow grease'' 288

Columbia breaks her own record 290

6 A miniature space station 293

A broken ankle 293

Penultimate Spacelab 295

MSL-1: investigating physical science phenomena 297

Understanding combustion on Earth and in space 299

Change of fortune 300

A productive, albeit short, flight 303

Reflight 308

Making lemonade out of lemons 309

Combustion science experiments 311

Space station hardware demonstrations 314

Materials research 315

The 'revolutionary' TEMPUS 316

Success, second time around 318

Leonid's long wait 318

First spacewalk from Columbia 319

A free-flying solar observatory 320

Doing the twist 322

Spartan in a spin 323

Rescuing Spartan 325

"Our last chance to look at this'' 327

AERCam/Sprint 329

Refining spacewalking techniques 330

Free-flying camera 332

A redeployment of Spartan? 336

Bittersweet voyage 337

No blame for Chawla 339

Tom Cruise's stuntman 341

''Everyone is a Mission Specialist'' 341

Neurolab and the 'Decade of the Brain' 342

Abseiling into the Spacelab 343

An extra push along the way 346

A several-thousand-strong crew 347

A magnificent mission 347

RCRS problems 349

Rodent experiments 350

Neonatal deaths 353

A fast pace on board 'Blurrolab' 354

Strictly non-station missions only 360

A heavy payload 361

IUS problems 363

Making Superman jealous 364

Astronomical targets 365

Genesis of Chandra 366

The rocky road to space 368

Doing her job 370

Near-disaster 372

Chandra ready to open its X-ray eyes 373

Middeck experiments 374

7 Uncertain future 377

A ship without a mission 377

A near-disastrous ascent 378

Lean, mean machine 379

An astronomical icon 381

A long road to space 387

''Getting outta town in a hurry!'' 388

Not out of the woods yet 390

Hubble captured 392

''Masterful'' performances 395

A more capable Hubble 399

Homeward bound 404

''Just a research mission'' 405

An Israeli in space 407

An important mission for science 409

A purpose-built research module 410

A long wait 415

Hot science in a warm lab 419

Small wonders and joys 424

''Absolutely no concern for entry'' 425

Last day 426

8 "In my book, they always landed" 429

Premonitions 429

The golden egg 434

Timeline to tragedy 436

Debris searching and soul searching 441

More stable than launch? 446

A very 'human' machine 451

Columbia's missions 457

Index 475

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