19 November 1997, 19:46:00 UTC, T minus Zero: Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) lifted off from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on mission STS-87. This was the 88th flight of the space shuttle program, and the 24th flight for Columbia.
The flight crew was led by mission commander, Colonel Kevin R. Kregel, U.S. Air Force, on his third space flight, with shuttle pilot Colonel Steven W. Lindsey, U.S. Air Force, on his first. Mission Specialist Captain Winston E. Scott, U.S. Navy, was on his second flight; Kalpana Chwala, Ph.D., was on her first; Takao Doi, Ph.D., Japanese Aerospace Explosration Agency (JAXA), was on his first; Payload Specialist Colonel Leonid K. Kandeniuk, Ukraine Air Force, and National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU), was on his only flight.
STS-87 carried a number of scientific research experiments which required Captain Scott and Doctor Doi to perform two “space walks”, the first EVAs conducted from Columbia.
Columbia landed at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), Kennedy Space Center, at 12:20 UTC, 5 December 1997. The duration of the mission was 15 days, 16 hours, 35 minutes, 01 seconds.
19 November 1996, 19:55:47 UTC, T minus Zero: Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) lifted off from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on mission STS-80. The veteran flight crew was led by mission commander, Captain Kenneth D. Cockrell, U.S. Navy, on his third space flight, with shuttle pilot Captain Kent V. Rominger, U.S. Navy, on his second. Mission Specialist Story Musgrave, M.D., was on his sixth flight; Thomas D. Jones, Ph.D., (formerly Captain, USAF, a B-52 aircraft commander) was on his third; Tamara E. Jernigan, Ph.D. was on her fourth.
On STS-80, Story Musgrave became the only person to have flown on all five space shuttles. At 61, he was the oldest person to have flown into space at the time.
STS-80 was the longest mission of any space shuttle flight, with a duration of 17 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes, 18 seconds. Columbia landed at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center, 11:49:05 UTC, 7 December 1996.
16 November 1973: Skylab 4 lifted off from Launch Complex 39B, Kennedy Space Center, at 14:01:23 UTC. Aboard the Apollo Command and Service Module were NASA astronauts Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Paul Carr, U.S. Marine Corps, Mission Commander; Lieutenant Colonel William Reid Pogue, U.S. Air Force; and Edward George Gibson, Ph.D. This would be the only space mission for each of them. They would spend 84 days working aboard Skylab.
The launch vehicle was a Saturn IB, SA-208. This rocket had previously stood by as a rescue vehicle during the Skylab 3 mission. The Saturn IB consisted of an S-IB first stage and an S-IVB second stage.
The S-IB was built by Chrysler Corporation Space Division at the Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, Louisiana. It was powered by eight Rocketdyne H-1 engines, burning RP-1 and liquid oxygen. Eight Redstone rocket fuel tanks, with 4 containing the RP-1 fuel, and 4 filled with liquid oxygen, surrounded a Jupiter rocket fuel tank containing liquid oxygen. Total thrust of the S-IB stage was 1,666,460 pounds (7,417.783 kilonewtons) and it carried sufficient propellant for a maximum 4 minutes, 22.57 seconds of burn. First stage separation was planned for n altitude of 193,605 feet, with the vehicle accelerating through 7,591.20 feet per second (2,313.80 meters per second).
The McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. S-IVB stage was built at Huntington Beach, California. It was powered by one Rocketdyne J-2 engine, fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The J-2 produced 229,714 pounds of thrust (1,021.819 kilonewtons), at high thrust, and 198,047 pounds (880.957 kilonewtons) at low thrust). The second stage carried enough fuel for 7 minutes, 49.50 seconds burn at high thrust. Orbital insertion would be occur 9 minutes, 51.9 seconds after launch, at an altitude of 98.5 miles (158.5 kilometers) with a velocity of 25,705.77 feet per second (7,835.12 meters per second).
The Skylab-configuration Saturn IB rocket was 223 feet, 5.9 inches (68.119 meters) tall. It had a maximum diameter of 22.8 feet (6.949 meters), and the span across the first stage guide fins was 40.7 feet (12.405 meters). Its empty weight was 159,000 pounds (72,122 kilograms) and at liftoff, it weighed 1,296,000 pounds (587,856 kilograms). It was capable of launching a 46,000 pound (20,865 kilogram) payload to Earth orbit.
23 July 1999: at 12:31 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (16:31:00 UTC), the Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) lifted off on its 26th mission, STS-93, to place the Chandra X-ray Observatory in orbit. The total mission duration was 4 days, 22 hours, 49 minutes, 37 seconds.
In command was Colonel Eileen Marie Collins, United States Air Force, on her third shuttle flight. This was the first time that a space shuttle mission had been commanded by a woman.
Colonel Collins had previously served as pilot aboard Discovery STS-63 and Atlantis STS-84. She would later command Discovery (STS-114), the “Return To Flight” mission following the loss of Columbia. She logged 38 days, 10 hours of space flight. Eileen Collins retired in 2006.
18 May 1969: At 16:49:00 UTC, Apollo 10 Saturn V AS-505 lifted off from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a full dress rehearsal for the landing on the Moon that would follow with Apollo 11, two months later. On board were Colonel Thomas P. Stafford, U.S. Air Force, Mission Commander, on his third space flight; Commander John W. Young, U.S. Navy, Command Module Pilot, also on his third mission; and Commander Eugene A. Cernan, U.S. Navy, Lunar Module Pilot, on his second space flight. This was the first Apollo mission in which all three flight crew members had previous space flight experience.
During the Apollo 10 mission, everything except an actual landing was done. The Lunar Module separated from the Command Service Module in lunar orbit and descended to within 47,400 feet (14,447.5 meters) of the surface. The CSM and LM were in lunar orbit for 2 days, 13 hours, 37 minutes, 23 seconds before returning to Earth. During the return, the CSM reached a maximum speed of 24,791 miles per hour (39,897 kilometers per hour).
At T+192:03:23 (16:52:25 UTC, 26 May) the Apollo capsule and the three astronauts splashed down in the Pacific Ocean 400 miles (643.7 kilometers) east of American Samoa. The duration of the mission was 8 days, 3 minutes, 23 seconds.