Wednesday, September 12, 2012

STS-6 causeway pass and brochure

This week, some mementos of the first launch of Space Shuttle Challenger.

The Space Shuttle program’s journeys into space commenced with a series of four orbital flight tests and one operational mission conducted with Columbia in 1981 and 1982. Following these flights, Columbia was refurbished for the first Spacelab mission while operational flights continued with a new orbiter — Challenger. Challenger’s first mission was STS-6, launched on 4 April 1983.

The main objective of the mission was to deploy the first of a series of new space communication satellites: the Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS). This system was to relay telemetry from spacecraft to tracking stations on the ground, increasing the length of time and the frequency with which spacecraft were in contact with Earth, and also the sheer volume of data that could be transferred during these contacts.

This brochure, issued by the shuttle’s manufacturer, Rockwell International (today, part of Boeing) in February 1983 describes the new orbiter, outlines the mission profile for STS-6, and introduces the crew:

The brochure concludes with a very optimistic section titled “The Emergence of a Spaceline”. As originally conceived in the late 1960s, the space shuttle should have launched nearly weekly. These expectations were gradually eroded, although as the program commenced, the shuttle was still intended to replace all other launch vehicles then in use by the United States. The Rockwell brochure does not give specifics about the frequency of flights, but says more generally:
“Turning this technical triumph into a commercial success depends on getting most out of Shuttle capabilities: each orbiter must be reflown as quickly as possible within safety requirements to establish cost-effective operations that attract commercial users.... Soon, the takeoff and landing of Shuttle orbiters will be almost as common as the coming and going of commercial aircraft.”
Sadly, this was extremely wishful thinking, and the largest number of shuttle launches conducted in any year was the nine flights made in 1985.

This pass allowed a spectator’s vehicle onto the NASA Causeway to watch the STS-6 launch. Ten kilometres (six miles) from the launch pad, this was the closest that the public could get to the pad.

The pass itself is a fluorescent orange, that unfortunately my scanner reduces to the pale salmon you see here.

Copyright information: the brochure is a work of Rockwell International and does not carry a copyright notice. As a work published in the United States prior to 1989 without such a notice, it is in the public domain. The pass is a work of NASA. As a work of the United States federal government, it too is in the public domain.

No comments:

Post a Comment