S T A R * P O I N T S

Space Shuttle Memories

On this page the author has posted his favorite observations of NASA's space shuttle orbiters while in flight. Unless otherwise credited all photographs were taken by the author at the times and places indicated.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to see larger image.

Curtis Roelle (95 KB)
Enterprise (OV-101)

Curtis Roelle photographed the space shuttle Enterprise over Baltimore riding piggyback on a specially modified Boeing 747 on June 12, 1983. The orbiter was returning from Europe where it had been a hit at the Paris Air Show.

The Enterprise participated in several flight tests beginning in 1977, where it was dropped off of a NASA Boeing 747 jet for landing practice at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Enterprise was retired in 1985 and donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Although original plans called for the spacecraft to be named Constitution in honor of the U.S. Constitution's Bicentennial, a write-in campaign convinced NASA to instead name the orbiter after the space ship in the popular science fiction television series Star Trek.

Curtis Roelle (77 KB)
Discovery (OV-103)

Curtis Roelle photographed the launch of space shuttle Discovery as it lifted off from pad 39-A on its mainden voyage, flight 41-D. The launch was photographed from the Cape Canaveral Naval Air Station on August 30, 1984. This was the first flight for astronaut Judith Resnik who was later killed in the Challenger accident in 1986.

Discovery was named for two famous sailing ships; one sailed by Henry Hudson in 1610-11 to search for a northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the other by James Cook on a voyage during which he discovered the Hawaiian Islands.

Curtis roelle (42 KB)
Challenger (OV-009)

Curtis Roelle photographed the launch of the space shuttle Challenger as it lifted off from pad 39-A on flight 41-G. This photograph was made from a NASA causeway at the Kennedy Space Center on October 5, 1984.

Challenger was named after an British Naval research vessel HMS Challenger that explored the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the 1870's as well as the name usd for the Apollo 17 Lunar module in 1972. Challenger was destroyed in an accidental explosion during it's tenth launch, flight 51-L, on January 28, 1986.

Russia's Mir space station as seen from STS-63 Discovery during rendezvous operations with the Space Shuttle Discovery. Clouds over an ocean form the backdrop for the scene. Docked at the bottom of the Mir facility is a Soyuz vehicle. (Photo by NASA; Photo ID: STS063-710-005).

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Discovery (OV-103)

Space shuttle flight STS-63 was the first U.S. spacecraft to rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir. Discovery began its 8-day mission with a launch on February 3, 1995.

Curtis Roelle and his 8- and 9-year-old daughters observed Discovery and Mir flying in formation on six consecutive frigid mornings from Sunday, February 5 through Friday, February 10.

On the first two days Discovery was leading Mir across the sky. But the following day found Mir leading Discovery by 40 seconds and had ganied another 20 seconds by the following day. The fifth day found Discovery in the lead once again by an impressive 2¼ minutes.

Mir was abandoned and fell back to earth, burning up in the atmosphere on March 23, 2001, after spending more than 15 years in earth orbit.

Since the ISS is in a high-inclination orbit the shuttle must be launched northward along the Atlantic coast line. This permits launches to be viewed by observers in areas such as the mid-atlantic region. For a typical ground track for such a launch, see Rick Baldrige's drawing at http://satobs.org/image/ststrac1b.jpg. Endeavour (OV-105)

Space shuttle flight STS-97 was the first space shuttle launch observed by Curtis Roelle from the back yard of his Carroll County home! On November 30, 2000, after watching the 22:06 EST launch on CNN, he grabbed the 10x50 Fuijinon binoculars and strolled leisurely up the hill. Approximately seven minutes after launch the shuttle was visible as an orange star rising in the southeast.

No image available at this time. Atlantis (OV-104)

On July 12, 2001 Curtis Roelle observed and videotaped the lift-off the the space shuttle Atlantis flight STS-104 from his back yard near New Windsor. It was launched in the morning at 05:04 EDT and therefore the shuttle's exhaust trail was backlit by the sun. At main engine cutoff (MECO) a huge plume of gas was observed being belched from the orbiter's main engines.

Atlantis was on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) to install the Joint Airlock module.

No image available at this time. Endeavour (OV-105)

On December 5, 2001 Curtis Roelle observed and videotaped the lift-off the the space shuttle Endeavour flight STS-108 from his back yard near New Windsor. It was an evening launch which began at 05:19 EST.

Endeavor visited the International Space Station where it dropped off and picked up passengers. A total of 10 astronauts rode up and/or down during Endeavour's mission.

URL of this page: http://members.fortunecity.com/starpoints/shuttle/.

Contact the author at StarPoints@gmail.com.

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