Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39
Launch Complex 39 is a rocket launch site at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island in Florida, United States; the site and its collection of facilities were built for the Apollo program, modified for the Space Shuttle program. Launch Complex 39 is composed of three launch pads—39A, 39B and 39C, a Vehicle Assembly Building, a Crawlerway used by crawler-transporters to carry Mobile Launcher Platforms between the VAB and the pads, Orbiter Processing Facility buildings, a Launch Control Center which contains the firing rooms, a news facility famous for the iconic countdown clock seen in television coverage and photos, various logistical and operational support buildings; as of 2017, only Launch Pad 39A is active, has been used to launch SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Pad 39B is being modified to launch NASA's Space Launch System. A new, smaller pad, 39C has not yet been used. SpaceX leases Launch Pad 39A from NASA and has modified the pad to support Falcon Heavy launches in 2017 and beyond.
NASA began modifying Launch Pad 39B in 2007 to accommodate the now defunct Project Constellation, is preparing it for the Space Launch System with first launch scheduled for December 2019. Pad C was planned for Apollo but never built, would have been a copy of pads 39A and 39B. A smaller pad, designated 39C was constructed from January to June 2015 to accommodate small-class vehicles. NASA launches from LC-39A and 39B have been supervised from the NASA Launch Control Center, located 3 miles from the launch pads. LC-39 is one of several launch sites that share radar and tracking services of the Eastern Test Range. Northern Merritt Island was first developed around 1890 when a few wealthy Harvard University graduates purchased 18,000 acres and constructed a three-story mahogany clubhouse nearly on the site of Pad 39A. During the 1920s, Peter E. Studebaker Jr. son of the automobile magnate, built a small casino at De Soto Beach eight miles north of the Canaveral lighthouse. In 1948, the Navy transferred the former Banana River Naval Air Station located south of Cape Canaveral, to the Air Force for use in testing captured German V-2 rockets.
The site's location on the East Florida coast was ideal for this purpose in that launches would be over the ocean, away from populated areas. This site became the Joint Long Range Proving Ground in 1949 and was renamed Patrick Air Force Base in 1950; the Air Force annexed part of Cape Canaveral to the North in 1951, forming the Air Force Missile Test Center, the future Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Missile and rocketry testing and development would take place here through the 1950s. After the creation of NASA in 1958, the CCAFS launch pads were used for NASA's civilian unmanned and manned launches, including those of Project Mercury and Project Gemini. In 1961, President Kennedy proposed to Congress the goal of landing a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. Congressional approval led to the launch of the Apollo program, which required a massive expansion of NASA operations, including an expansion of launch operations from the Cape to adjacent Merritt Island to the north and west. NASA began acquisition of land in 1962, taking title to 131 square miles by outright purchase and negotiating with the state of Florida for an additional 87 square miles.
On July 1, 1962, the site was named the Launch Operations Center. At the time, the highest numbered launch pad on CCAFS was Launch Complex 37; when the lunar launch complex was designed, it was designated as Launch Complex 39. It was designed to handle launches of the Saturn V rocket, the largest, most powerful rocket designed, which would propel Apollo spacecraft to the Moon. Initial plans included four pads evenly spaced 8,700 feet apart to avoid damage in the event of an explosion on the pad. Three were scheduled for construction and two would have been built at a date; the numbering of the pads at the time was from north to south, with the northernmost being 39A, the southernmost being 39C. Pad 39A was never built, 39C became 39A in 1963. With today's numbering, 39C would have been north of 39B, 39D would have been due west of 39C. Pad 39E would have been due north of the mid-distance between 39C and 39D, with 39E forming the top of a triangle, equidistant from 39C and 39D; the Crawlerway was built with the additional pads in mind.
This is the reason the Crawlerway turns as it heads to Pad B. Months before launch, the three stages of the Saturn V launch vehicle and the components of the Apollo spacecraft were brought inside the Vehicle Assembly Building and assembled in one of four high bays into a 363-foot -tall space vehicle on one of three Mobile Launchers; each mobile launcher consisted of a two-story, 161-by-135-foot launch platform with four hold-down arms and a 446-foot Launch Umbilical Tower topped by a crane used to lift the spacecraft into position for assembly. The MLP and unfueled vehicle together weighed 12,600,000 pounds; the Umbilical Tower contained two elevators and nine retractable swing arms which extended to the space vehicle, to provide access to each of the three rocket stages and the spacecraft for people and plumbing while the vehicle was on the launch pad, swung away from the vehicle at launch. Technicians and astronauts used the uppermost Spacecraft Access Arm to access the crew cabin. At the end of the arm, the white room provided an environmentally controlled and protected area for astronauts and their equipment to enter the spacecraft
Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics and chemistry in an effort to explain the origin of those objects and phenomena and their evolution. Objects of interest include planets, stars, nebulae and comets. More all phenomena that originate outside Earth's atmosphere are within the purview of astronomy. A related but distinct subject is physical cosmology, the study of the Universe as a whole. Astronomy is one of the oldest of the natural sciences; the early civilizations in recorded history, such as the Babylonians, Indians, Nubians, Chinese and many ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas, performed methodical observations of the night sky. Astronomy has included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, the making of calendars, but professional astronomy is now considered to be synonymous with astrophysics. Professional astronomy is split into theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of astronomical objects, analyzed using basic principles of physics.
Theoretical astronomy is oriented toward the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. The two fields complement each other, with theoretical astronomy seeking to explain observational results and observations being used to confirm theoretical results. Astronomy is one of the few sciences in which amateurs still play an active role in the discovery and observation of transient events. Amateur astronomers have made and contributed to many important astronomical discoveries, such as finding new comets. Astronomy means "law of the stars". Astronomy should not be confused with astrology, the belief system which claims that human affairs are correlated with the positions of celestial objects. Although the two fields share a common origin, they are now distinct. Both of the terms "astronomy" and "astrophysics" may be used to refer to the same subject. Based on strict dictionary definitions, "astronomy" refers to "the study of objects and matter outside the Earth's atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties," while "astrophysics" refers to the branch of astronomy dealing with "the behavior, physical properties, dynamic processes of celestial objects and phenomena."
In some cases, as in the introduction of the introductory textbook The Physical Universe by Frank Shu, "astronomy" may be used to describe the qualitative study of the subject, whereas "astrophysics" is used to describe the physics-oriented version of the subject. However, since most modern astronomical research deals with subjects related to physics, modern astronomy could be called astrophysics; some fields, such as astrometry, are purely astronomy rather than astrophysics. Various departments in which scientists carry out research on this subject may use "astronomy" and "astrophysics" depending on whether the department is affiliated with a physics department, many professional astronomers have physics rather than astronomy degrees; some titles of the leading scientific journals in this field include The Astronomical Journal, The Astrophysical Journal, Astronomy and Astrophysics. In early historic times, astronomy only consisted of the observation and predictions of the motions of objects visible to the naked eye.
In some locations, early cultures assembled massive artifacts that had some astronomical purpose. In addition to their ceremonial uses, these observatories could be employed to determine the seasons, an important factor in knowing when to plant crops and in understanding the length of the year. Before tools such as the telescope were invented, early study of the stars was conducted using the naked eye; as civilizations developed, most notably in Mesopotamia, Persia, China and Central America, astronomical observatories were assembled and ideas on the nature of the Universe began to develop. Most early astronomy consisted of mapping the positions of the stars and planets, a science now referred to as astrometry. From these observations, early ideas about the motions of the planets were formed, the nature of the Sun and the Earth in the Universe were explored philosophically; the Earth was believed to be the center of the Universe with the Sun, the Moon and the stars rotating around it. This is known as the geocentric model of the Ptolemaic system, named after Ptolemy.
A important early development was the beginning of mathematical and scientific astronomy, which began among the Babylonians, who laid the foundations for the astronomical traditions that developed in many other civilizations. The Babylonians discovered. Following the Babylonians, significant advances in astronomy were made in ancient Greece and the Hellenistic world. Greek astronomy is characterized from the start by seeking a rational, physical explanation for celestial phenomena. In the 3rd century BC, Aristarchus of Samos estimated the size and distance of the Moon and Sun, he proposed a model of the Solar System where the Earth and planets rotated around the Sun, now called the heliocentric model. In the 2nd century BC, Hipparchus discovered precession, calculated the size and distance of the Moon and inven
Space Shuttle abort modes
Space Shuttle abort modes were procedures by which the nominal launch of the NASA Space Shuttle could be terminated. A pad abort occurred after ignition of the shuttle's main engines but prior to liftoff. An abort during ascent that would result in the orbiter returning to a runway or to a lower than planned orbit was called an "intact abort", while an abort in which the orbiter would be unable to reach a runway, or any abort involving the failure of more than one main engine, was called a "contingency abort". Crew bailout was still possible in some situations; the three Space Shuttle main engines were ignited 6.6 seconds before liftoff, computers monitored their performance as they increased thrust. If an anomaly was detected, the engines would be shut down automatically and the countdown terminated before ignition of the solid rocket boosters at T − 0 seconds; this was called a "redundant set launch sequencer abort", happened five times: STS-41-D, STS-51-F, STS-51, STS-55, STS-68. Once the shuttle's SRBs were ignited, the vehicle was committed to liftoff.
If an event requiring an abort happened after SRB ignition, it was not possible to begin the abort until after SRB burnout and separation about two minutes after launch. There were five abort modes available during ascent, divided into the categories of intact aborts and contingency aborts; the choice of abort mode depended on how urgent the situation was, what emergency landing site could be reached. The abort modes covered a wide range of potential problems, but the most expected problem was a Space Shuttle main engine failure, causing the vehicle to have insufficient thrust to achieve its planned orbit. Other possible non-engine failures necessitating an abort included a multiple auxiliary power unit failure, a progressive hydraulic failure, a cabin leak, an external tank leak. There were four intact abort modes for the Space Shuttle. Intact aborts were designed to provide a safe return of the orbiter to a planned landing site or to a lower orbit than planned for the mission. Return to launch site was the first abort mode available and could be selected just after SRB jettison.
The Shuttle would continue downrange to burn excess propellant, as well as pitch up to maintain vertical speed in aborts with an SSME failure. After burning sufficient propellant, the vehicle would be pitched all the way around and begin thrusting back towards the launch site; this maneuver was called the "powered pitcharound" and was timed to ensure less than 2% propellant remained in the external tank by the time the Shuttle's trajectory brought it back to the Kennedy Space Center. Additionally, the Shuttle's OMS and reaction control system motors would continuously thrust to burn off excess OMS propellant to reduce landing weight and adjust the orbiter's center of gravity. Just before main engine cutoff, the orbiter would be commanded to pitch nose-down to ensure proper orientation for external tank jettison, since aerodynamic forces would otherwise cause the tank to collide with the orbiter; the SSMEs would cut off, the tank would be jettisoned, as the orbiter used its RCS to increase separation.
Once the orbiter cleared the tank, it would make a normal gliding landing about 25 minutes after lift-off. If a second SSME failed at any point during PPA, the Shuttle would not be able to make it back to the runway at KSC, the crew would have to bail out. A failure of a third engine during PPA would lead to loss of control and subsequent loss of crew and vehicle. Failure of all three engines as horizontal velocity approached zero or just before external tank jettison would result in LOCV; the capsule communicator would call out the point in the ascent at which an RTLS was no longer possible as "negative return" 4 minutes after lift-off, at which the vehicle would be unable to safely bleed off the velocity it had gained in the distance between its position downrange and the launch site. This abort mode was never needed in the history of the shuttle program, it was considered the most difficult and dangerous abort, among the most unlikely abort to have been attempted since there were only a narrow range of probable failures that were survivable but so time-critical as to rule out more time-consuming abort modes.
Astronaut Mike Mullane referred to the RTLS abort as an "unnatural act of physics", many pilot astronauts hoped that they would not have to perform such an abort due to its difficulty. A transoceanic abort landing involved landing at a predetermined location in Africa, western Europe or the Atlantic Ocean about 25 to 30 minutes after lift-off, it was to be used when velocity and distance downrange did not allow return to the launch point by RTLS. It was to be used when a less time-critical failure did not require the faster but more dangerous RTLS abort. A TAL abort would have been declared between T+2:30 and main engine cutoff, about T+8:30; the shuttle would have landed at a predesignated airstrip across the Atlantic. The last four TAL sites were Istres Air Base in France and Morón air bases in Spain, RAF Fairford in England. Prior to a shuttle launch, two sites would be selected based on the flight plan and were staffed with standby personnel in case they were used; the list of TAL sites depended on orbital inclination.
Preparations of TAL sites took four to five days and began one week before launch, with the majority of personnel from NASA, the Department of Defense and contractors arriving 48 hours before launch. Additionally, two C-130 aircraft from the manned space flight support office from the adjacent Patric
Space Shuttle main engine
The Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25, otherwise known as the Space Shuttle main engine, is a liquid-fuel cryogenic rocket engine, used on NASA's Space Shuttle. NASA is planning to continue using the RS-25 on the Space Shuttle's successor, the Space Launch System. Designed and manufactured in the United States by Rocketdyne, the RS-25 burns cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants, with each engine producing 1,859 kN of thrust at liftoff. Although the RS-25 can trace its heritage back to the 1960s, concerted development of the engine began in the 1970s, with the first flight, STS-1, occurring on April 12, 1981; the RS-25 has undergone several upgrades over its operational history to improve the engine's reliability and maintenance load. Subsequently, the RS-25D is the most efficient liquid fuel rocket engine in use; the engine produces a specific impulse of 452 seconds in a vacuum, or 366 seconds at sea level, has a mass of 3.5 tonnes, is capable of throttling between 67% and 109% of its rated power level in one-percent increments.
The RS-25 operates at temperatures ranging from −253 °C to 3300 °C. The Space Shuttle used a cluster of three RS-25 engines mounted in the stern structure of the orbiter, with fuel being drawn from the external tank; the engines were used for propulsion during the entirety of the spacecraft's ascent, with additional thrust being provided by two solid rocket boosters and the orbiter's two AJ-10 orbital maneuvering system engines. Following each flight, the RS-25 engines were removed from the orbiter and refurbished before being reused on another mission; the RS-25 engine consists of various pumps and other components which work in concert to produce thrust. Fuel and oxidizer from the Space Shuttle's external tank entered the orbiter at the umbilical disconnect valves and from there flowed through the orbiter's main propulsion system feed lines. Once in the MPS lines, the fuel and oxidizer each branch out into separate paths to each engine. In each branch, prevalves allow the propellants to enter the engine.
Once in the engine, the propellants flow through low-pressure fuel and oxidizer turbopumps, from there into high-pressure turbopumps. From these HPTPs the propellants take different routes through the engine; the oxidizer is split into four separate paths: to the oxidizer heat exchanger, which splits into the oxidizer tank pressurization and pogo suppression systems. Meanwhile, fuel flows through the main fuel valve into regenerative cooling systems for the nozzle and MCC, or through the chamber coolant valve. Fuel passing through the MCC cooling system passes back through the LPFTP turbine before being routed either to the fuel tank pressurization system or to the hot gas manifold cooling system. Fuel in the nozzle cooling and chamber coolant valve systems is sent via pre-burners into the HPFTP turbine and HPOTP before being reunited again in the hot gas manifold, from where it passes into the MCC injectors. Once in the injectors, the propellants are mixed and injected into the main combustion chamber where they are ignited.
The burning propellant mixture is ejected through the throat and bell of the engine's nozzle, the pressure of which creates the thrust. The low-pressure oxidizer turbopump is an axial-flow pump which operates at 5,150 rpm driven by a six-stage turbine powered by high-pressure liquid oxygen from the high-pressure oxidizer turbopump, it boosts the liquid oxygen's pressure from 0.7 to 2.9 MPa, with the flow from the LPOTP being supplied to the HPOTP. During engine operation, the pressure boost permits the high-pressure oxidizer turbine to operate at high speeds without cavitating; the LPOTP, which measures 450 by 450 mm, is connected to the vehicle propellant ducting and supported in a fixed position by being mounted on the launch vehicle's structure. The HPOTP consists of two single-stage centrifugal pumps mounted on a common shaft and driven by a two-stage, hot-gas turbine; the main pump boosts the liquid oxygen's pressure from 2.9 to 30 MPa while operating at 28,120 rpm, giving a power output of 23,260 hp.
The HPOTP discharge flow splits into several paths. Another path is to, through, the main oxidizer valve and enters the main combustion chamber. Another small flow path is sent to the oxidizer heat exchanger; the liquid oxygen flows through an anti-flood valve that prevents it from entering the heat exchanger until sufficient heat is present for the heat exchanger to utilize the heat contained in the gases discharged from the HPOTP turbine, converting the liquid oxygen to gas. The gas is sent to a manifold and routed to pressurize the liquid oxygen tank. Another path enters the HPOTP second-stage preburner pump to boost the liquid oxygen's pressure from 30 to 51 MPa, it passes through the oxidizer preburner oxidizer valve into the oxidizer preburner, thro
The term micro-g environment is more or less a synonym for weightlessness and zero-g, but indicates that g-forces are not quite zero—just small. The symbol for microgravity, µg, was used on the insignias of Space Shuttle flights STS-87 and STS-107, because these flights were devoted to microgravity research in low Earth orbit. A "stationary" micro-g environment would require travelling far enough into deep space so as to reduce the effect of gravity by attenuation to zero; this is the simplest in conception, but requires traveling an enormous distance, rendering it most impractical. For example, to reduce the gravity of the Earth by a factor of one million, one needs to be at a distance of 6 million kilometers from the Earth, but to reduce the gravity of the Sun to this amount one has to be at a distance of 3.7 billion kilometers.. Thus it is not impossible, but it has only been achieved so far by four interstellar probes and they did not return to Earth. To reduce the gravity to one thousandth of that on Earth's surface, one needs to be at a distance of 200,000 km.
At a distance close to Earth, gravity is only reduced. As an object orbits a body such as the Earth, gravity is still attracting objects towards the Earth and the object is accelerated downward at 1g; because the objects are moving laterally with respect to the surface at such immense speeds, the object will not lose altitude because of the curvature of the Earth. When viewed from an orbiting observer, other close objects in space appear to be floating because everything is being pulled towards Earth at the same speed, but moving forward as the Earth's surface "falls" away below. All these objects are in not zero gravity. Compare the gravitational potential at some of these locations. What remains is a micro-g environment moving in free fall, i.e. there are no forces other than gravity acting on the people or objects in this environment. To prevent air drag making the free fall less perfect and people can free-fall in a capsule that itself, while not in free fall, is accelerated as in free fall.
This can be done by applying a force to compensate for air drag. Alternatively free fall can be carried out in a vacuum tower or shaft. Two cases can be distinguished: Temporary micro-g, where after some time the Earth's surface is or would be reached, indefinite micro-g. A temporary micro-g environment exists in a drop tube, a sub-orbital spaceflight, e.g. with a sounding rocket, in an airplane such as used by NASA's Reduced Gravity Research Program, aka the Vomit Comet, by the Zero Gravity Corporation. A temporary micro-g environment is applied for training of astronauts, for some experiments, for filming movies, for recreational purposes. A micro-g environment for an indefinite time, while possible in a spaceship going to infinity in a parabolic or hyperbolic orbit, is most practical in an Earth orbit; this is the environment experienced in the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, etc. While this scenario is the most suitable for scientific experimentation and commercial exploitation, it is still quite expensive to operate in due to launch costs.
Objects in orbit are not weightless due to several effects: Effects depending on relative position in the spacecraft: Because the force of gravity decreases with distance, objects with non-zero size will be subjected to a tidal force, or a differential pull, between the ends of the object nearest and furthest from the Earth. In a spacecraft in low Earth orbit, the centrifugal force is greater on the side of the spacecraft furthest from the Earth. At a 400 km LEO altitude, the overall differential in g-force is 0.384 μg/m. "Floating" objects in a spacecraft in LEO are in independent orbits around the Earth. If two objects are placed side-by-side, they will be orbiting the Earth in different orbital planes. Since all orbital planes pass through the center of the Earth, any two orbital planes intersect along a line. Therefore, two objects placed side-by-side will come together after one quarter of a revolution. If they are placed so they miss each other, they will oscillate past each other, with the same period as the orbit.
This corresponds to an inward acceleration of 0.128 μg per meter horizontal distance from the center at 400 km altitude. If they are placed one ahead of the other in the same orbital plane, they will maintain their separation. If they are placed one above the other, they will have different potential energies, so the size and period of their orbits will be different, causing them to move in a complex looping pattern relative to each other. Gravity between the spacecraft and an object within it may make the object "fall" toward a more massive part of it; the acceleration is 0.007 μg for 1000 kg at 1 m distance. Uniform effects: Though thin, there is some air at orbital altitudes of 185 to 1,000 km; this atmosphere causes minuscule deceleration due to friction. This could be compensated by a small continuous thrust, but in practice the deceleration is only compensated from time to time, so the tiny g-force of this effect is not eliminated; the effects of the solar wind and radiation pressure are similar, but dire
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first space-rated orbiter in NASA's Space Shuttle fleet. It launched for the first time on mission STS-1 on April 12, 1981, the first flight of the Space Shuttle program. Serving for over 22 years, it completed 27 missions before disintegrating during re-entry near the end of its 28th mission, STS-107 on February 1, 2003, resulting in the deaths of all seven crew members. Construction began on Columbia in 1975 at Rockwell International's principal assembly facility in Palmdale, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Columbia was named after the American sloop Columbia Rediviva which, from 1787 to 1793, under the command of Captain Robert Gray, explored the US Pacific Northwest and became the first American vessel to circumnavigate the globe, it is named after the Command Module of Apollo 11, the first manned landing on another celestial body. Columbia was the female symbol of the United States. After construction, the orbiter arrived at Kennedy Space Center on March 25, 1979, to prepare for its first launch.
Columbia was scheduled to lift off in late 1979, however the launch date was delayed by problems with both the Space Shuttle main engine, as well as the thermal protection system. On March 19, 1981, during preparations for a ground test, workers were asphyxiated while working in Columbia's nitrogen-purged aft engine compartment, resulting in two or three fatalities; the first flight of Columbia was commanded by John Young, a veteran from the Gemini and Apollo programs, the ninth person to walk on the Moon in 1972, piloted by Robert Crippen, a rookie astronaut selected to fly on the military's Manned Orbital Laboratory spacecraft, but transferred to NASA after its cancellation, served as a support crew member for the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz missions. Columbia spent 610 days in the Orbiter Processing Facility, another 35 days in the Vehicle Assembly Building, 105 days on Pad 39A before lifting off. Columbia was launched on April 12, 1981, the 20th anniversary of the first human spaceflight, returned on April 14, 1981, after orbiting the Earth 36 times, landing on the dry lakebed runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Columbia undertook three further research missions to test its technical characteristics and performance. Its first operational mission, with a four-man crew, was STS-5, which launched on November 11, 1982. At this point Columbia was joined by Challenger, which flew the next three shuttle missions, while Columbia underwent modifications for the first Spacelab mission. In 1983, under the command of John Young on what was his sixth spaceflight, undertook its second operational mission, in which the Spacelab science laboratory and a six-person crew was carried, including the first non-American astronaut on a space shuttle, Ulf Merbold. After the flight, Columbia spent 18 months at the Rockwell Palmdale facility beginning in January 1984, undergoing modifications that removed the Orbiter Flight Test hardware and bringing it up to similar specifications as those of its sister orbiters. At that time the shuttle fleet was expanded to include Atlantis. Columbia returned to space on January 12, 1986, with the launch of STS-61-C.
The mission's crew included Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, as well as the first sitting member of the House of Representatives to venture into space, Bill Nelson; the next shuttle mission, STS-51-L, was undertaken by Challenger. It was launched on January 28, 1986, ten days after STS-61-C had landed, ended in disaster 73 seconds after launch. In the aftermath NASA's shuttle timetable was disrupted, Columbia was not flown again until 1989, after which it resumed normal service as part of the shuttle fleet. STS-93, launched on July 23, 1999, was the first U. S. space mission with a female commander, Lt. Col. Eileen Collins; this mission deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Columbia's final successful mission was STS-109, the fourth servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope, its next mission, STS-107, culminated in the orbiter's loss when it disintegrated during reentry, killing all seven of its crew. President George W. Bush decided to retire the Shuttle orbiter fleet by 2010 in favor of the Constellation program and its manned Orion spacecraft.
The Constellation program was cancelled with the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 signed by President Barack Obama on October 11. As the second orbiter to be constructed, the first able to fly into space, Columbia was 8,000 lb heavier than subsequent orbiters such as Endeavour, which were of a different design, had benefited from advances in materials technology. In part, this was due to heavier wing and fuselage spars, the weight of early test instrumentation that remained fitted to the avionics suite, an internal airlock that fitted into the other orbiters, was removed in favor of an external airlock to facilitate Shuttle/Mir and Shuttle/International Space Station dockings. Due to its weight, Columbia could not have used the planned Centaur-G booster; the retention of the internal airlock allowed NASA to use Columbia for the STS-109 Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, along with the Spacehab double module used on STS-107. Due to Columbia's heavier weight, it was less ideal for NASA to use it for missions to the International Space Station, though modifications were made to the Shuttle during its last refit in case the spacecraft was needed for such tasks.
Externally, Columbia was the first orbiter in the fleet whose surface was covered with High
Catherine Grace "Cady" Coleman is an American chemist, a former United States Air Force officer, a retired NASA astronaut. She is a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, departed the International Space Station on May 23, 2011, as a crew member of Expedition 27 after logging 159 days in space. Coleman graduated from Wilbert Tucker Woodson High School, Virginia, in 1978, she received a B. S. degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983, a Ph. D. degree in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1991 as a member of the Air Force ROTC. She was advised by Professor Thomas J. McCarthy on her doctorate, she was a resident of Baker House. After completing her regular education, Coleman joined the U. S. Air Force as a Second Lieutenant while continuing her graduate work for a PhD at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1988 she entered active duty at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a research chemist. During her work she participated as a surface analysis consultant on the NASA Long Duration Exposure Facility experiment.
In 1991, she received her doctorate in polymer engineering. She retired from the Air Force in November 2009. Coleman was selected by NASA in 1992 to join the NASA Astronaut Corps. In 1995, she was a member of the STS-73 crew on the scientific mission USML-2 with experiments including biotechnology, combustion science, the physics of fluids. During the flight, she reported to Houston Mission Control that she had spotted an unidentified flying object, she trained for the mission STS-83 to be the backup for Donald A. Thomas. STS-93 was Coleman's second space flight in 1999, she was mission specialist in charge of deploying the Chandra X-ray Observatory and its Inertial Upper Stage out of the shuttle's cargo bay. Coleman served as Chief of Robotics for the Astronaut Office, to include robotic arm operations and training for all Space Shuttle and International Space Station missions. In October 2004, Coleman served as an aquanaut during the NEEMO 7 mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory and working underwater for eleven days.
Coleman was assigned as a backup U. S. crew member for Expeditions 19, 20 and 21 and served as a backup crew member for Expeditions 24 and 25 as part of her training for Expedition 26. Coleman launched on December 15, 2010, aboard Soyuz TMA-20 to join the Expedition 26 mission aboard the International Space Station, she retired from NASA on December 1, 2016. STS-73 on Space Shuttle Columbia was the second United States Microgravity Laboratory mission; the mission focused on materials science, combustion science, the physics of fluids, numerous scientific experiments housed in the pressurized Spacelab module. In completing her first space flight, Coleman orbited the Earth 256 times, traveled over 6 million miles, logged a total of 15 days, 21 hours, 52 minutes and 21 seconds in space. STS-93 on Columbia was a five-day mission during which Coleman was the lead mission specialist for the deployment of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Designed to conduct comprehensive studies of the universe, the telescope will enable scientists to study exotic phenomena such as exploding stars and black holes.
Mission duration was 50 minutes. Soyuz TMA-20 / Expedition 26/27 was an extended duration mission to the International Space Station. Coleman is married to glass artist Josh Simpson, they have one son. She is part of the band Bandella, which includes fellow NASA astronaut Steven Robinson, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, Micki Pettit. Coleman is a flute player and has taken several flutes with her to the ISS, including a pennywhistle from Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains, an old Irish flute from Matt Molloy of the Chieftains, a flute from Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. On February 15, 2011, she played. On April 12, 2011, she played live through video link for the audience of Jethro Tull's show in Russia in honour of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight, she played the duet from orbit. On May 13 of that year, Coleman delivered a taped commencement address to the class of 2011 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; as do many other astronauts, Coleman holds an amateur radio license. As of 2015, she is a member of the board of directors for the Hollywood Science Fiction Museum.
As of 2015 she is known to be working as a guest speaker at the Baylor College of Medicine, for the children's program'Saturday Morning Science'. This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Cady Coleman Video produced by Makers: Women Who Make America