Tag Archives: Joe Henry Engle

12 November 1981, 15:09:59 UTC, T minus Zero

Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) is launched from LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, 15:09:59 UTC, 12 November 1981. (NASA) KSC-81PC-0362

12 November 1981, 15:09:59 UTC, T minus Zero: At 10:09:59 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) lifted of from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.

On board were two NASA astronauts, Colonel Joe Henry Engle,¹ United States Air Force, the mission commander, and Captain Richard Harrison Truly, United States Navy, shuttle pilot.

The flight crew of Columbia (STS-2), left to right, Colonel Joe H. Engle, United States Air Force, and Captain Richard H. Truly, United States Navy. Both astronauts are wearing David Clark Company S1030A Ejection Escape Suits. (NASA)

This was the very first time that a manned spacecraft had returned to space on a second mission.

Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-2) climbing after liftoff, 12 November 1981. (NASA)

Columbia entered a Low Earth Orbit at an altitude of 157 nautical miles (181 statute miles/291 kilometers).

At liftoff the vehicle weighed 2,030,250 kilograms (4,475,943 pounds).

Aerial view of the launch of Columbia (STS-2) 12 November 1981. (NASA)
Columbia (STS-2) accelerates toward Earth orbit, 12 November 1981. (NASA)

STS-2 was planned as a five-day mission. In addition to continued testing of the orbital vehicle, on this flight the Remote Manipulator System (the “robot arm”) would be operated for the first time in space. A number of other experiments were carried in the cargo bay. However, when one of the three fuel cells producing electrical power and water failed, the mission was cut short.

Columbia landed on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base, California, at 1:23 p.m. PST, 14 November 1981. The shuttle completed 37 orbits. The total duration of the flight was 2 days, 6 hours, 13 minutes, 13 seconds.

Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-2) glides overhead Edwards Air Force Base in California, 14 November 1981. (NASA S81-39564/GPN-2000-001346)

¹ Joe Engle qualified as an astronaut during the X-15 Program, when he flew the  # 3 rocketpane, 56-6672, to 280,600 feet (85,527 meters), 29 June 1965, and he is the only person to have done so prior to entering NASA’s manned space flight program.

X-15 Astronaut Joe Engle and his wife, Mary, with their children Laurie and Jon, and North American Aviation X-15 56-6672. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

29 June 1965

Captain Joe Henry Engle, United States Air Force
Captain Joe Henry Engle, United States Air Force

29 June 1965: At 10:21:17.6 PDT, Captain Joe H. Engle, United States Air Force, flying the Number Three North American Aviation X-15A-3 research rocketplane, 56-6672, was air-dropped from the NB-52B Stratofortress mothership, Balls 8, over Delamar Dry Lake in Nevada. This was the 138th flight of the X-15 Program, and Joe Engle’s 12th. He fired the Reaction Motors XLR99-RM-1 engine for 81.0 seconds and accelerated to Mach 4.94 (3,432 miles per hour, 5,523 kilometers per hour). The X-15 climbed to an altitude of 280,600 feet (85,527 meters, 53.14 miles). He touched down at Edwards Air Force Base after 10 minutes, 34.2 seconds of flight. His parents were at Edwards to witness his flight.

Captain Engle qualified for Astronaut wings on this flight, the third and youngest Air Force pilot to do so.

Command Pilot Astronaut insignia, United States Air Force
Command Pilot Astronaut insignia, United States Air Force

From 1963 and 1965, Joe Engle made 14 flights in the three X-15s. After leaving the X-15 Program, he was assigned to the Apollo Program, the only NASA astronaut with prior spaceflight experience. He was the back-up Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 14 and he was the designated LM pilot for Apollo 17 but was replaced by Harrison Schmidt when Apollo 18 was cancelled. Next he went on to the Space Shuttle Program. He was a Mission Commander for the Enterprise flight tests and for Columbia‘s second orbital flight, during which he became the only pilot to manually fly a Mach 25 approach and landing. Finally, he commanded the Discovery STS 51-1 mission.

Joe Engle retired from the Air Force in 1986. He was then promoted to the rank of Major General and assigned to the Kansas Air National Guard. He has flown at least 185 aircraft types and accumulated 14,700 flight hours, with 224 hours in space.

Captain Joe H. Engle, U.S. Air Force, with the North American Aviation X-15A-2, 56-6671, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, 1965. (NASA)
Captain Joe H. Engle, U.S. Air Force, with the North American Aviation X-15A-2, 56-6671, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, 1965. (NASA)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather