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June 20, 2016 - On a Pillar of Fire and Physics

On a Pillar of Fire and Physics  Twenty years ago this week, the space shuttle Columbia lifted off from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, a thundering beginning to the STS-78 mission. During launch, the stack’s two Solid Rocket Boosters and three Space Shuttle Main Engines fired in conjunction, creating a total thrust of 3.35 million kg (7.4 million lbs) that delivered the vehicle to orbit in under nine minutes. NASA’s space shuttles were the most complex machines ever built, each containing over 2.5 million parts, 370 km (230 mi) of wire, and 1,060 valves. Over the course of thirty years and 135 missions, five orbiters transported over 1.6 million kg (3.5 million lbs) of cargo into space, a considerable portion of which is now the fully-constructed International Space Station.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

June 20-26, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 20

Full Moon 7:02 AM ET
Solstice 6:34 PM ET

1985: NASA announces cola wars will take place on shuttle mission STS-51F
1996: STS-78 Columbia launched

Moon phase Tuesday 21

1993: STS-57 Endeavour launched
2004: SpaceShipOne launched, first privately-funded human space flight

Moon phase Wednesday 22

1675: Royal Greenwich Observatory founded
1973: 28-day Skylab 2 mission ends
2000: NASA announces evidence of present-day liquid water on Mars

Moon phase Thursday 23

Moon phase Friday 24

St. Jean Baptiste Day (Québec)

1999: FUSE spacecraft launched

Moon phase Saturday 25

Juno appears stationary
Neptune 1.2° south of Moon

1894: Hermann Oberth born
1992: STS-50 Columbia launched
1997: Progress spacecraft collides with Mir Spektr module
1999: Gemini North telescope dedicated

Moon phase Sunday 26

1730: Charles Messier born
1914: Lyman Spitzer, Jr born
1963: Syncom 2 satellite launched
1984: First space shuttle launch pad abort (STS-41D)

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