Liftoff: A Short Read About Love And The Space It Needs To Grow

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Bettmann via Getty Images. In early , McNair was tapped for the STSL mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger , an undertaking that would draw media attention for its selection of teacher Christa McAuliffe as a civilian payload specialist. After multiple delays, Challenger launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, shortly before noon on January 28, Seventy-three seconds later, on live television, the shuttle suddenly exploded at around 46, feet, killing all seven crew members.

McNair was just 35 years old. A presidential commission determined the explosion to be caused by the failure of a rubber "O-ring" seal on one of Challenger 's solid rocket boosters, allowing hot gases to leak into the hydrogen fuel tank. McNair's wife later won a settlement against the seal manufacturer, Morton Thiokol. Of the 11, applicants, McNair was one of 35 selected in January , and he completed his training and evaluation period the following August.

About five months after Guion S. A mission specialist, McNair operated Challenger 's robotic arm to help astronaut Bruce McCandless conduct his historic untethered space walk. The second of three boys born to Carl, a mechanic, and Pearl, a teacher, McNair displayed an early aptitude for technical matters, earning the nickname "Gizmo. McNair's interest in space was piqued by the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik in , and boosted by the appearance of Star Trek on TV years later, its multi-ethnic cast pushing the boundaries of what was possible for a small-town African-American boy.

An outstanding all-around student at Carver High School, McNair starred in baseball, basketball and football and played saxophone for the school band. Adjusting to the new environment proved a challenge for McNair, who came from a historically black undergraduate school. He later faced a potentially career-altering obstacle when two years of specialized laser physics research for his doctorate was stolen, but he managed to produce a second set of data in a year, and earned his Ph. D in physics in By this point, McNair was a recognized expert in the fields of chemical and high-pressure lasers.

Ronald McNair Biography - Biography

McNair, who played saxophone for a band during college, maintained his love for the instrument throughout his life. Just a reminder here. We want to make sure you leave the rendezvous radar circuit breakers pulled; however, we want the rendezvous radar mode switch in LGC just as it is on surface Everything looks good, and we assume the steerable is in track mode AUTO. Engine arm ascent. A split second later, the ascent engine ignited as a set of explosive charges simultaneously blew away the nuts, bolts, wires, and water hoses connecting the upper and lower sections of the LEM.

Unlike a Saturn 5 booster, the LEM did not lurch upward with a deafening roar or belch out a terrifying holocaust of smoke and fire.

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But as the remote-controlled TV cameras set up by the astronauts on subsequent moon landing missions would document, a lunar liftoff was in many ways more spectacular than a liftoff from the Cape because of its almost inaudible gracefulness. You never hear the main engine, because of the vacuum of the lunar atmosphere. All you hear is a little thump-thump-thump kind of sound. Bean says that the thumping nevertheless helped dissipate the intense anxiety he had felt throughout the countdown and made him realize that the wisest thing to do was to sit back, relax, and try to observe the visual drama of lifting off from the moon.

As we lifted off, I could see these sparkling things being blown off the insulation of the descent stage. It looked like the ripples you see when you drop a rock in a pond of water, this metallic insulation going out in concentric rings. It looked like those rings just went on forever.

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Excerpted from For All Mankind. All rights reserved. Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature. Article continues after advertisement. His books include Texas Rich , a biography of oil tycoon H. These black areas on the upper surfaces of the shuttle's forward wing were added because, at first, shuttle designers did not know how reentry heating would affect the craft's upper wing surfaces. The "chines" were added after Columbia arrived at KSC in Though the pod's equipment was removed after initial tests, NASA decided to leave it in place, mainly to save costs, along with the agency's plans to use it for future experiments.

The vertical stabilizer was later modified to incorporate the drag chute first used on Endeavour in Columbia was also originally fitted with Lockheed -built ejection seats identical to those found on the SR Blackbird. Columbia was also the only spaceworthy orbiter not delivered with head-up displays for the Commander and Pilot, although these were incorporated after STS Like its sister ships, Columbia was eventually retrofitted with the new MEDS " glass cockpit " display and lightweight seats.

Columbia was scheduled for this mission due to Discovery being out of service for its Orbital Maintenance Down Period, and because the ISS assembly schedule could not be adhered to with only Endeavour and Atlantis. Columbia' s 'career' would have started to wind down after STS It was to service the Hubble Space Telescope two more times between and , but no more missions were planned for it again except for a mission designated STS where it would retrieve the Hubble Space Telescope from orbit and bring it back to Earth.


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Because of the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, the batteries and gyroscopes that keep the telescope pointed will eventually fail also because of the magnifier screen, which would result in its reentry and break-up in Earth's atmosphere. A "Soft Capture Docking Mechanism", based on the docking adapter that was to be used on the Orion spacecraft , was installed during the last servicing mission in anticipation of this event.

Columbia was also scheduled to launch the X V Crew Return Vehicle prototype as the next mission after STS, until the cancellation of the project in Columbia flew 28 missions, gathering Despite being in service during the Shuttle-Mir and International Space Station programs, Columbia did not fly any missions that visited a space station. The other three active orbiters at the time had visited both Mir and the ISS at least once. Columbia was not suited for high-inclination missions.

Columbia was destroyed at about EST on February 1, , while re-entering the atmosphere after a day scientific mission. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board determined that a hole was punctured in the leading edge on one of Columbia's wings, which was made of a carbon composite.

The hole had formed when a piece of insulating foam from the external fuel tank peeled off during the launch 16 days earlier and struck the shuttle's left wing. During the intense heat of re-entry, hot gases penetrated the interior of the wing, likely compromising the hydraulic system and leading to control failure of the control surfaces.

The resulting loss of control exposed minimally protected areas of the orbiter to full-entry heating and dynamic pressures that eventually led to vehicle break up. The report delved deeply into the underlying organizational and cultural issues that the Board believed contributed to the accident.

The report was highly critical of NASA's decision-making and risk-assessment processes. Further, the board determined that, unlike NASA's early claims, a rescue mission would have been possible using the Shuttle Atlantis , which was essentially ready for launch, and might have saved the Columbia crewmembers.

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The collection was opened to the media once and has since been open only to researchers. McCool , Pilot; Michael P. The debris field encompassed hundreds of miles across Texas and into Louisiana and Arkansas. The nose cap and remains of all seven crew members were found in Sabine County , East Texas. The museum tells the story of Space Shuttle Columbia explorations throughout all its missions, including the final STS Its exhibits also show the efforts of local citizens during the recovery period of the Columbia shuttle debris and its crew's remains.

An area is dedicated to each STS crew member, and also to the Texas Forest Service helicopter pilot who died in the recovery effort. The crew's families contributed personal items of the crew members to be on permanent display. The museum features two interactive simulator displays that emulate activities of the shuttle and orbiter.

The digital learning center and its classroom provide educational opportunities for all ages. The facility is also a hands-on learning center with interactive exhibits, workshops, and classes about space science , astronautics , and the Space Shuttle program's legacy — providing educational opportunities for all ages.

The Columbia Hills on Mars were also named in honor of the crew, and a host of other memorials were dedicated in various forms. Built as a joint effort between NASA and technical partners SGI and Intel in , the supercomputer was used in scientific research of space, the Earth's climate, and aerodynamic design of space launch vehicles and aircraft.

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A female bald eagle at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota is named in tribute to the victims of the disaster. Guitarist Steve Morse of the rock band Deep Purple wrote the instrumental " Contact Lost " in response to the tragedy, recorded by Deep Purple and featured as the closing track on their album " Bananas ". It was dedicated to the astronauts whose lives were lost in the disaster. Morse donated songwriting royalties to the families of lost astronauts. Both CDs survived the destruction of the shuttle and the mile plunge.

The Eric Johnson instrumental "Columbia" from his album Bloom was written as a commemoration and tribute to the lives that were lost. Johnson said "I wanted to make it more of a positive message, a salute, a celebration rather than just concentrating on a few moments of tragedy, but instead the bigger picture of these brave people's lives. The graphic novel Orbiter by Warren Ellis and Colleen Doran was dedicated to the "lives, memories and legacies of the seven astronauts lost on space shuttle Columbia during mission STS From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Space shuttle orbiter.