Science: Shuttle

First there were two small red flashes in the starry sky above California's Mojave Desert, as the space shuttle Challenger fired thruster rockets to steady its attitude. Then, after a wait of about three minutes, ground observers glimpsed the unlighted shuttle. Silently it glided into view just 200 ft. above the end of runway 22. In the glare of blue xenon searchlights, Navy Captain Richard Truly, the mission commander, flawlessly guided the orbiter, nose up, to its first nighttime landing. Challenger's arrival at Edwards Air Force Base last week, at 12:40 a.m. California...

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!