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July 26, 2010 - Return to Flight

Return to Flight Following the loss of the shuttle Columbia in February 2003, the space shuttle fleet was grounded for more than two-and-a-half years while new procedures and tools were developed to prevent a similar accident. When Discovery lifted off on the STS-114 mission five years ago this week, ground cameras and onboard cameras watched for any insulating foam that could have damaged the orbiter during ascent. Discovery executed a graceful backflip maneuver—now standard—when it reached the International Space Station, allowing further examination of its surfaces by the ISS crew. Finally, the new Orbiter Boom Sensor allowed remote inspection of Discovery’s thermal protection system. Spacewalking astronauts also tested new techniques for repairing damaged tiles in flight.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

July 26 - August 1, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 26

1958: Explorer IV launched
1971: Apollo 15 launched, fourth lunar landing mission, first mission to use lunar rover
2005: STS-114 Discovery launched

Moon phase Tuesday 27

Mercury 0.3° south of Regulus

Moon phase Wednesday 28

Neptune 5° south of Moon
Moon at apogee
Delta Aquarid meteor shower

1851: First photo of total solar eclipse
1964: Ranger 7 lunar probe launched
1973: Skylab 3 crew launched on 59-day mission

Moon phase Thursday 29

Delta Aquarid meteor shower

1985: STS-51F Challenger launched

Moon phase Friday 30

Uranus 6° south of Moon

1965: SA-10 launched, last Saturn 1 vehicle
1971: Apollo 15 lands on Moon

Moon phase Saturday 31

Jupiter 7° south of Moon

1969: Mariner 6 flies by Mars
1971: First vehicle driven on Moon by Apollo 15 astronauts Scott & Irwin
1992: STS-46 Atlantis launched
1999: Lunar Prospector mission ends

Moon phase Sunday 1

Mars 1.9° south of Saturn

1818: Maria Mitchell born
1967: Lunar Orbiter V launched
1968: Saturn V production ends
1973: First X-24B lifting body glide test

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.