When NASA's 30-year-old space shuttle program was shuttered following the Atlantis mission in July 2011, the University of Colorado Boulder looked back at a rich relationship filled with triumph and tragedy and looked ahead to an evolving international program of government and private efforts that will send humans and cargo into orbit.
Of the 20 astronaut-affiliates from CU — 19 from CU-Boulder and one from University of Colorado Colorado Springs — 16 flew on a total of 40 NASA space shuttle missions. The two who flew the most shuttle missions were Jim Voss, (M.S. aerospace engineering, 1974) a current scholar in residence at CU-Boulder who flew five missions, as did CU alumna Marsha Ivins (B.S. aerospace engineering, 1973).
In addition to its prominent role in the astronaut program, CU-Boulder has flown dozens of science payloads on NASA's 135 space shuttle missions. BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA-funded center in the aerospace engineering sciences department, has launched experiments onboard space shuttles 39 times since 1991, using the low-gravity of Earth orbit as a testing ground for a variety of agricultural, biomedical and educational payloads.
BioServe has worked with industrial and academic partners on experiments ranging from bone loss mitigation and the development of new antibiotics to K-12 educational payloads involving butterflies and spiders that drew the participation of more than a million students around the world. BioServe personnel have trained dozens of astronauts to operate their experimental hardware in space, both on the shuttle and the International Space Station.
NASA space shuttles also toted two key instruments developed by teams led by CU-Boulder faculty for the Hubble Space Telescope. The launch of Hubble aboard Atlantis in 1990 included a high-resolution spectrograph designed and built by a team led by CU-Boulder retired Professor John "Jack" Brandt of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The instrument broke down wavelengths of light emanating from distant celestial objects to determine their compositions, motions and temperatures to help astronomers understand the conditions of the early universe.
CU-Boulder's involvement with the space shuttle program also included three payloads designed, built and flown by students, primarily undergraduates, from the Colorado Space Grant Consortium headquartered in aerospace engineering sciences. The first payload, dubbed ESCAPE, and which flew on Discovery in 1993, measured the sun's effects on Earth's atmosphere using a spectrometer to record extreme UV solar radiation and a camera to photograph the sun. The effort included the participation of nearly 100 students, primarily undergraduates, over a two-year span.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has obtained its first observations of the extended upper atmosphere surrounding Mars.
The Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument obtained these false-color...
The spacecraft for a NASA mission to probe the climate history of Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder slid seamlessly into orbit at about 8:24 p.m. MDT on Sunday, Sept. 21, the last major hurdle of the 10-month, 442-million-mile...
Experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center are recovering long-lost images from the Nimbus satellites, the first of which was launched 50 years ago. The pictures are allowing researchers to extend the satellite record of sea ice back to the...
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems is pleased to announce it is expanding its relationship with the University of Colorado Boulder through the signing of a letter of cooperation with CU-Boulder’s BioServe Space Technologies (BioServe...
Just before midnight Saturday, one day before the final presentation, the project came to a dead stop.
The following Monday, the student aerospace engineering team was scheduled to perform a live test of their prototype land...
Rounding out a full day of touring CU-Boulder facilities and meeting with faculty, staff and students, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden spoke to a packed house on the afternoon of April 18, 2014.
Bolden acknowledged the close association...
As an undergrad studying ecology and evolutionary biology, Lizzie Lombardi found herself as one of the few “plant” people on a team of University of Colorado Boulder engineering students who were tasked with a lofty mission: build a robotic...
Want to compare an experiment you can easily conduct on Earth to a similar one on the International Space Station, which is whipping around 200 miles over our heads at a mind-blowing 17,000 miles per hour? Well, here’s your chance.
A massive ejection of material from the sun initially traveling at over 7 million miles per hour that narrowly missed Earth last year is an event solar scientists hope will open the eyes of policymakers regarding the impacts and mitigation of...
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft thundered off the launch pad aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:28 p.m. EST Friday, beginning a 10-month journey to...
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