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NASA's Space Shuttle has launched more astronauts to outer space than all other space vehicles combined. But instead of being remembered as a workhorse for human spaceflight, the most retold stories of the Space Shuttle are stained with tragedy: two disasters that killed 14 astronauts during flight. On February 1, 2003, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe was on the runway waiting for the Columbia Space Shuttle to return home. Instead of greeting the world's newest space pioneers and welcoming...
The Privilege to Launch
After the Soviet Union launched the first woman to space in 1963, the United States waited over twenty years to do the same. NASA didn't consider women for the earliest space missions, despite their proven ability to live and work in the space environment. Decades later, the NASA astronaut corps still faces diversity challenges. Poised to become the first African American to complete a full-duration mission to the International Space Station, astronaut Jeanette Epps was pulled from her...
When the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on Earth's surface after humankind's first trip to the Moon, their journey wasn't over yet. Concerned about the possibility of lunar pathogens infecting the astronauts, NASA scientists quarantined the crew members for 21 days. Now, as humans prepare to return to the Moon decades later, we're faced with a different kind of planetary protection issue: preventing the spread of our own germs to other worlds.
Bodies in Orbit
Before there was Yuri, there was Laika. When the first human astronaut left Earth’s atmosphere in 1961, both the American and Soviet space programs had spent years testing the environment with animal passengers. Now, as we push deeper into space, the human body confronts new challenges. This time, in the era of long-term space travel, we're the test subjects.
Space is Dangerous
Throughout history, humans have had a dangerous pattern of challenging the bounds of Earth's gravity, testing our limits, and expanding our world. In 1965, two nations raced to complete the first space walk; that is, sending an astronaut outside of the spacecraft's cabin, and into open space.