Tag Archives | space shuttle

What if the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster never happened?

STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik.

STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik.

For people of a certain age, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster is one of those events where one remembers where they were and what they were doing, not unlike JFK’s assassination or the morning of September 11, 2001.

It was the worst space program disaster since Apollo 1, resulting in the deaths of all astronauts aboard the Challenger. Or so we have been led to believe.

The official details of the disaster are fairly straight forward, as the Wikipedia entry attests:

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger (OV-099) (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members, which included five NASA astronauts and two payload specialists. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:38 EST (16:38 UTC).

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NASA Building A Prototype Deep-Space Habitat In Texas

Living in the deep reaches of outer space, in Texas. Via Popular Science:

It’s not going to send anyone to deep space. But it does give us a tantalizing look at what it’ll look when NASA does take the next steps in space travel.

Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center and experts Johnson Space Center in Houston are tinkering with the spaceship mockup, deciding the right size, necessary equipment, and everything else that’s going to make a mission to Mars, a near-by asteroid, or the second Earth-Moon Lagrangian point (277,000 miles away from Earth) as pleasant as possible.

The team’s also planning what [devices] will be sent along and built in. One is a 3-D printer, which would allow astronauts to create any tools they need right on the spot. There’s also greenhouse for astronauts to grow their own and food, and a barrier of water on the outside that could be used to shield explorers from cosmic rays.

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1970s NASA Space Colony Art

This could be your neighborhood. Via the Public Domain Review, think tank concepts for possible off-Earth colonies — a glorious glimpse at what could have been in an alternate reality:

In the 1970s the Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill, with the help of NASA Ames Research Center and Stanford University, held a series of space colony summer studies which explored the possibilities of humans living in giant orbiting spaceships. Colonies housing about 10,000 people were designed and a number of artistic renderings of the concepts were made.

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