Space: Thin Wire Away From Eternity

Challenger makes its debut

They looked like acrobatic snowmen as they joyously floated, tumbled and wheeled about in their puffy white space suits. But for Astronauts Story Musgrave, 47, and Donald Peterson, 49, last week's orbital excursion was much more than the romp it seemed to millions of television viewers back on earth. Restrained only by 50-ft.-long tethers, they drifted over the new space shuttle Challenger's big, open cargo bay, at times peering over the side into the dizzying abyss of space, only a thin wire away from eternity.

While the earth loomed in...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!