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‘Off to a Good Start’: Remembering Columbia’s Return on STS-28, Thirty Years On (Part 1)

5 Aug 2019, 14:27 UTC
‘Off to a Good Start’: Remembering Columbia’s Return on STS-28, Thirty Years On (Part 1) NASA

Astronaut Dick Richards was five weeks from his first launch into space when the Challenger disaster snatched the opportunity from him. In January 1985, Richards had been named as veteran astronaut Jon McBride’s pilot on STS-61E, the ASTRO-1 science mission, scheduled for March 1986 to observe Halley’s Comet and a multitude of other astronomical targets. When Challenger rose from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on 28 January 1986, McBride and Richards were in their seats in the simulator at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, working launch-abort scenarios. They paused briefly to step outside and watch Challenger’s launch. Seventy-three seconds later, STS-61E vanished from the manifest like a blip from a radar screen. Thirty years ago, this month, Richards and another crew—that of STS-28—finally made it to space, on a quite different mission, and in a profoundly different shuttle era.

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