Author Topic: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised  (Read 74983 times)

Offline Ares67

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Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« on: 07/06/2012 06:08 PM »

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #1 on: 07/06/2012 06:09 PM »
Tour of Duty

STS-27 is finally upon us. After the 32-month delay before the launch of Discovery in September, the two months prior to the launch of Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center seems like a mere turn of the page in the NASA flight log. Apart from this obvious difference between the two flights there is one distinguished factor that sets STS-27 apart from STS-26 – the mission is a total secret. The only ones who seem to know what is going up with Atlantis is the military and they are not talking. The crew list reads like a who’s who of possible “Top Gun” candidates with three of the crew members having been named distinguished graduates from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School while a fourth attended naval test pilot school. The crew selection seems to indicate that NASA is going to give the new shuttle design an in-flight shake-down, unlike the Discovery mission where special attention was taken to fly the orbiter with as few maneuvers as possible.

Commanding the STS-27 team is Navy Commander Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson. Gibson has flown twice aboard the shuttle – aboard Challenger’s mission 41-B in 1984 and Columbia’s mission 61-C in 1986.

Piloting mission 27 will be Air Force Colonel Guy S. Gardner. Gardner is making his first spaceflight as is Navy Commander William M. Shepherd, who will be serving as a mission specialist. Joining Shepherd as mission specialists are space veterans Air Force Colonel Richard M. Mullane and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jerry L. Ross. Mullane served as mission specialist on the maiden voyage of Discovery on mission 41-D in 1984, while Ross earned his space wings aboard Atlantis in 1985 as mission specialist.

While the next shuttle mission is one marked by dogged secrecy, much can be said about the crew chosen to fly Atlantis into space. The crew is made up of three space veterans and two rookies. There are three Air Force crewmen and two Navy men. And at least three of the crew members are taking special mementos with them to space.

Hoot Gibson will carry a good old American baseball bearing the logo from the town where he was born. He will also carry a blue and white number 64 football jersey with him, which will denote the year he graduated from Huntington High School in Huntington, NY. Guy Gardner, not to be mistaken for fellow astronaut Dale Gardner, will carry a red and white athletic letter from his 1965 alma mater George Washington High School in Alexandria, VA. Jerry Ross will carry a number of mementos from his hometown of Crown Point, Ind., but no word has been received as to what they will be. However the town did name its Little League facilities after him – Jerry Ross park. The remaining two astronauts undoubtedly will be carrying special items to space with them, but they have not been disclosed at this time. (Countdown, December 1988)

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #2 on: 07/06/2012 06:12 PM »
The crew of Atlantis - a collection of daring patriotism

Although the mission’s objectives are veiled in secrecy, the crew will provide an interesting collection of daring patriotism for the followers of STS-27. Listed below are some of the highlights of the crew members’ careers:

Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson, Commander
Cdr. USN… Born October 30, 1946, in Cooperstown, New York, but considers Lakewood, California, his hometown… 5 ft. 11 ins. Tall, weighs 165 lbs… Graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1969… Married to Astronaut Dr. M. Rhea Seddon of Murfreesboro, Tennessee… Entered active duty with the Navy in 1969 and received primary and basic flight training at Naval Air Stations Saufley Field and Pensacola, Florida, and Meridian, Mississippi, and completed advanced flight training in Kingsville, Texas… While assigned to Fighter Squadrons 111 and 1, from 1972 to 1975, served aboard the USS Coral Sea and the USS Enterprise, flying combat missions in Southeast Asia… Upon returning to the U.S. was assigned as an F-14A instructor pilot with Fighter Squadron 124… Graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland, in 1977… Flight experience includes over 3,600 hours in over 35 types of civil and military aircraft… Selected as astronaut candidate in January 1978… Piloted Challenger during Mission 41-B, launched February 3, 1984. This mission was the first checkout of the Manned maneuvering Unit and Manipulator Foot Restraint… Upon mission completion logged 191 hours in space… Commanded Mission 61-C aboard Columbia, carrying Congressman Bill Nelson into space, in last successful mission prior to Challenger disaster… Total time logged in space: 337 hours… Prior to STS-27 was assigned technical duties within the astronaut office.

Guy S. Gardner, Pilot
Col. USAF… Born January 6, 1948, in Alta Vista, Virginia, but considers Alexandria, Virginia, his hometown… 6 ft. 2 ins. Tall, weighs 190 lbs… Graduated from The U.S. Air Force Academy in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Sciences, Astronautics and mathematics… Received a Master of Science degree in Astronautics from Pudue University in 1970… Upon graduation in 1970, completed pilot training at Craig Air Force base, Alabama, and F-4 upgrade training at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida… In 1972 flew 177 combat missions in Southeast Asia while stationed in Thailand… In 1973-74 flew F-4s at Seymour Johnson Air Force base, North Carolina… Attended USAF Test Pilot School in 1975, then served with the 6512th Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in 1976… Was an instructor test pilot 1977-78 at USAF Test Pilot School, then served as operations officer with the 1st Test Squadron at Clark Air Base, Philippines until1980… Was selected for astronaut training in 1980 and has worked in several areas of Space Shuttle development and support, including chase pilot, and was training to fly first shuttle out of Vandenberg AFB, California, prior to its closing… Was assigned technical duties within the astronaut office while awaiting assignment as pilot for STS-27.

Richard M. Mullane, Mission Specialist
Col. USAF… Born September 10, 1945, in Wichita Falls, Texas, but considers Albuquerque, New Mexico, his hometown… 5 ft. 10 ins. Tall, weighs 146 lbs… Graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1967 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Military Engineering.. Earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1975… After graduating from West Point in 1967, completed 150 combat missions as an RF-4C weapon system operator while stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam, in 1969… Served a four-year tour of duty at Royal Air Force base, Alconbury, England… Upon completion of the USAF Test Pilot School’s Flight Test Engineer Course at Edwards Air Force base, California, was assigned as a flight test weapon system operator to the 3246th Test Wing at Elgin Air Force Base, Florida… Was selected by NASA in January 1978… Was mission specialist on mission 41-D, launched from KSC on August 30, 1984, during Discovery’s maiden voyage… Upon completion of the mission, he had logged almost 145 hours in space.

Jerry L. Ross, Mission Specialist
Lt.-Col. USAF… Born January 20, 1948, in Crown Point, Indiana… 5 ft. 10 ins. Tall, weighs 175 lbs… earned both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree from Purdue University in 1970 and 1972, respectively… Received his commission upon graduation from Purdue in 1970… Entered active duty with the Air Force in 1972 and was assigned to the Ramjet Engine Division of Air Force Aero-Propulsion Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he conducted computer-aided design studies on ramjet and mixed cycle propulsion systems and served as the project manager for the preliminary configuration development of the ASALM strategic air-launched missile… From June 1974 to July 1975 was Laboratory Executive Officer and Chief of the management Operations Office… Graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School’s Flight Test Engineer Course in 1976 and was subsequently assigned to the 6510th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force base, California, where he served as lead B-1 flying qualities flight test engineer… Was responsible for the stability and control and flight control system testing performed an the B-1… Was responsible for training and supervising all Air Force B-1 flight test engineer crew members and for performing the mission planning for the B-1 offensive avionics test aircraft… Has flown in 21 different types of aircraft, with more than 1,300 flying hours… In 1979 was assigned to the Payload Operations Division at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center as a payload officer/flight controller… Selected for astronaut training in 1980… Has worked with EVA, RMS and chase teams… Was support crewman for STS 41-B, 41-C and 51-A, and CapCom during STS 41-B, 41-C, 41-D, 51-A and 51-D… In his only shuttle flight, served as mission specialist during mission 61-B, launched November 26, 1985, aboard Atlantis. The payload weight for this mission was the heaviest to date… When Atlantis landed at Edwards, Ross had logged a total of 165 hours in space, including over twelve hours in two spacewalks.

William M. Shepherd, Mission Specialist
Cdr. USN… Born July 26, 1949, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee… Earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971 and the degrees of Ocean Engineer and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978… Upon graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971, served with Underwater Demolition Team Eleven, SEAL Teams One and Two, and Special Boat Unit Twenty… Was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in May 1984. In June 1985 he completed a one-year training and evaluation program, qualifying him for assignment as a mission specialist… STS-27 is his first shuttle mission.

(Countdown, December 1988)

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #3 on: 07/06/2012 06:14 PM »
Atlantis to rise cloaked in secrecy

(This preview article was published in Countdown, December 1988. It speculated on the nature of the military payload to be carried aboard Atlantis STS-27 and gave a general description of the current intelligence gathering capabilities of the U.S.)

The Navy calls it scuttlebutt and the Army calls it rumor control. These two innocuous-sounding groups are the underlying information networks of the two services. Their job, though unofficial, is to pass information along through the ranks down to the lowliest private or seaman. Nine out of ten times the information is wrong, but half the fun of hearing it is the outrageous “knowledge” an unknown source has dug up.

Take the upcoming mission of Atlantis, which is now scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in the last week of November. After checking with rumor control, which in this case includes NASA sources, television, newspapers and various space and military experts, one can get a pretty good idea about what precious cargo is going up, but he can never be absolutely sure that he is right.

Scuttlebutt is all the public will have as to the mission of Atlantis. While a launch date will be announced, an exact time will not be released until nine minutes before lift-off. Once orbit is achieved, NASA will go silent. Every 24 hours, the military will allow NASA to release a brief statement saying that the flight is still up there A-OK. A landing time will not be announced until 12 hours before the event.

The secrecy wrapped around the mission cannot keep scuttlebutt from sizing up what is in the box – or payload bay, in this case. Judging by information that is routinely passing through the rumor control hotline it can be surmised that the military payload is probably a 5,000-lbs Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) satellite capable of eavesdropping on military communications. But it also could be a highly advanced imaging satellite, the KH-12.

The first option, the Signal Intelligence satellite, is a very important intelligence gathering source and would help strengthen the weakening intelligence gathering system of the United States. A satellite of this type would be capable of more than mere eavesdropping. It would be able to provide a non-stop flow of data concerning foreign communications, missile tests, radar capabilities, naval and aircraft deployments plus a variety of additional operations that have been deemed vital to the United States’ security.

Since the satellite is to be launched aboard the shuttle, if indeed it is to be the payload, it is probably similar to one launched (unsubstantiated) in January 1985, which was lifted into orbit aboard the shuttle Discovery and given an extra boost by a 32,000-lbs IUS and placed in a geosynchronous orbit just above the equator south of the Soviet Union. From this position the craft was able to monitor telemetry from missile testing, Soviet military communications and assorted other radio, microwave and telephone communications. The new satellite would have capabilities at least equal to the 1985 satellite and most people would say that it has probably been improved.

In the March 1985 issue of Countdown, a description of the satellite deploy was given with an explanation of its objectives. According to that story the SIGINT satellite was expected to “retransmit its eavesdroppings to a ground station in Australia. From there, the intercepted communications will be relayed to the National Security Agency (NSA) outside Washington, D.C. The NSA will sift through the data for clues as to Soviet military movements and motives. This larger, more advanced version of intelligence satellites, which have been used for years, will help verify arms treaties and listen for changes in normal communications which might signal Soviet preparations for war.”

This entry may sound a little suspicious today in light of the changes the Soviet Union has been making, but the military is not taking any chances. With limited photo reconnaissance capabilities, the military must depend more heavily on its ears in space rather than its eyes. For this reason, the Signal Intelligence satellite is a good bet to be on STS-27

While a SIGINT satellite most likely sits sealed away in the Atlantis payload bay, another high-priority military payload, a KH-12 spy satellite, could be waiting to spring into orbit to take over the duties of KH-11 currently on orbit. This possibility springs from reports that the intelligence gathering community has been severely disadvantaged in the past couple of years due to the failures suffered by a number of Titan launch vehicles reportedly carrying the last KH-11s in existence. The last KH-11 was launched on October 26, 1987, and is still in service today. It is a remarkably efficient satellite with photo reconnaissance capabilities so effective that it would not be an exaggeration to say that it is able to clearly photograph a license plate from orbit. But as the world moves ahead, so do the world watchers.

The importance of imaging satellites was proven in the early 60s, when they provided the Kennedy administration with proof of Soviet missile transports to Cuba. Today, their task is equally important as the satellites are said to be the best way to verify arms limitation treaties. Right now, the United States is experiencing a problem with its reconnaissance gathering. There just are not as many spy satellites in space as there once were. The disaster of Challenger, coupled with the decision to rely solely on the shuttle for access to space in the late 70s, left the intelligence gathering field badly wounded. Luckily, the Air Force chose not to put all of their eggs in the shuttle basket and secured contracts for expendable launchers, such as the Titan.

As intelligence gathering became more advanced, the need for a satellite even more versatile than the KH-11 surfaced. Engineers came up with the KH-12, which was (and is) touted as the state-of-the-art development in satellite reconnaissance. It is bigger and better than any of its predecessors and was specifically designed for use with the shuttle. However, after the shuttle program was stalled in 1986, one small problem surfaced – the KH-12 is too big to be launched aboard a Titan 34D (at the time the largest launch vehicle the U.S. had available). When Challenger exploded, the KH-12’s ride to space went with it. Perhaps foreseeing this, the Air Force called for the development of the Titan 4 and specifically requested its payload capacity be equal to the shuttle’s so it could launch theKH-12. When a few Titan launches went awry, the Air Force found themselves in a desperate situation which continued during the shuttle’s redesign – the U.S. did not have the intelligence capability thought necessary for national security and would not have it until the shuttle returned.

When the shuttle was almost back in business, the Air Force was given the responsibility of reviewing the manifest and prioritizing flights. The publicity the first flight was going to receive made it clear that NASA could not have begun with a secret military flight; the public would not have stood idly by for it. So the military had to wait. Now it is time for the second flight of the refurbished shuttle. Atlantis, moved to the launch pad November 2, sits with its secret cargo in its payload bay leaving the world to guess what is inside. By a process of deduction, one could come to the conclusion that the Atlantis payload will be some sort of spy satellite that is either more advanced than the KH-11 or as versatile as the huge signal intelligence gathering satellite. Rumor control seems to agree.

Either way, this next launch will be the reconnaissance patchwork flight that is so badly needed by the United States intelligence community, which supposedly now relies on only one fully operational KH-11 satellite supported by an array of smaller signal intelligence gathering platforms. The addition of either the KH-12 or the massive eavesdropping satellite would sufficiently strengthen the country’s “world-watching” capabilities until the next opportunity arises to lift another spy in the sky. At least that is what scuttlebutt seems to indicate. Whether a KH-12, a Signal Intelligence satellite or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day inflatable Underdog balloon is inside the payload bay of Atlantis, the important thing is that the shuttle is going up again. Twice in as many months – now that is something that rumor control or scuttlebutt could not have predicted a few short months ago. (Countdown, December 1988)

It’s an open secret now

(In Countdown, January 1989, the “secret” was revealed)

The only uncertain aspect of the “secret” flight of Atlantis concerned its classified payload. The trade publication Aviation Week had broken the story that the shuttle would carry a sophisticated spy satellite named Lacrosse, which would fill the cavernous payload bay. Lacrosse, costing about $500 million, uses a rectangular antenna spanning 100 feet to make radar images of the Soviet Union. Radar pictures can be taken through clouds, at night, and even through some foliage to reveal military activities. The satellite sports twin solar panels which span 150 feet at its sides. A heat radiator panel and a communications antenna sprout from the top of the 50-foot-long body. The satellite weighs about 40,000 lbs.

Atlantis would be launched in a high-inclination orbit, tilted 57 degrees to the equator, as opposed to the 28.5 degrees inclination usually used by the shuttle. From such an orbit, Lacrosse could keep an eye on 80 percent of the Soviet Union. The shuttle’s robot arm would lift the giant satellite from the bay. Atlantis would then back away, station keeping with Lacrosse as the radar antenna, solar power panels and radiator deployed. If the satellite malfunctioned, the appendages could be jettisoned and the main body retrieved by the shuttle and returned to Earth.

On November 27 even the Soviet news agency TASS carried a detailed article on the mission. They stated that Lacrosse could serve as a radar eye in the sky for the new B-2 Stealth bombers – thus enabling the airplanes to avoid switching on their radar, which would give away their position. (Countdown, January and February 1989 - edited)

Loose lips sink ships

(And then there was this exchange in the “Air to ground” letters to the editor section of Countdown, February 1989)

Dear Editor:
I feel compelled to comment on your Dec. 1988 and Jan. 1989 issues which contained information regarding the supposedly top secret payload of the STS-27 mission. Although I am an avid, loyal reader of Countdown, I believe that irresponsible reporting and speculation by your periodical and others has contributed to the compromise of top secret compartmented intelligence operations. May I suggest restraint in the coverage of the secret U.S. military program bearing in mind that SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) and IMAGINT (Imaging Intelligence) is an area in which this country still retains a very significant lead? There are those of us in the intelligence community who believe that the Soviets should get their intelligence without the cooperation of the American press.

Alex R. Blackwell, Ft. Meade, Maryland
_____

You forgot to mention the United States is also ahead of the Soviets in the area of personal freedoms thanks to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees both freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It’s up to each of us to utilize these freedoms with utmost care. Sometimes difficult choices must be made. In the case of the STS-27 article, the public’s right to know far outweighed any security issues, especially when the Soviets were among the first to print a story concerning the Lacrosse spy satellite.

Donald Andrew Gardner, Assistant Editor – Countdown Magazine

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #4 on: 07/06/2012 06:16 PM »
If I told you, I’d have to kill you

(Mike Mullane: Riding Rockets, 2006 – pp. 266/267)

STS-27 was a classified DOD mission. I wouldn’t be able to share much with Donna. I had entered the “black” world of the Cold War, where I would be taking trips to locations I couldn’t discuss. I would study checklists in an underground vault. At parties Donna wouldn’t be able to ask our contractors and support team about their work. She wouldn’t even be able to ask in what city they worked. To complicate the spying efforts of Russian ships, the launch date wouldn’t be announced until twenty-four hours prior to the planned lift-off. That little detail would seriously complicate family travel arrangements. As Donna would later say, “It’s like making plans for a wedding where the date is kept secret.” The mission photography would be classified. There would be no photos of me with my payload. When asked what the mission was about, I would have to borrow a little from Top Gun: “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” (Four years after the mission some aspects of it were declassified. I can now say I used the robot arm to deploy a classified satellite into space. I am forbidden to describe the satellite or its intended function.)

New spy in heavens propels the militarization of space

The new military spy satellite carried into space by Atlantis is viewed by some experts as capable of gathering such important information that it is only a matter of time before the Russians begin to think of ways to destroy it in the event of war.

Like the roughly 200 military satellites already deployed in space by the United States and Soviet Union, the $500 million Lacrosse satellite reported to be aboard the space shuttle Atlantis is not armed. It is a surveillance satellite, carrying a sophisticated radar that can look down from space, piercing even cloud cover to reveal what's happening on the ground."As military satellites become more directly applicable to actual combat, they become much more attractive targets for destruction," said John Pike, an expert on space systems with the Federation of American Scientists here.

"Lacrosse provides a good example of that," he said. "It's going up there to find targets for the new Stealth bomber and to look for long-range targets deep behind the lines in the Warsaw Pact. Now, if I've got all that riding on my satellites, the Soviets would be crazy not to try to shoot them down."

"Space is already militarized," agreed William Arkin, an authority on nuclear weaponry with the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank in Washington. "The question is whether we're going to avoid the weaponization of space."

The United States now has approximately 75 to 80 military satellites in space, while roughly 125 of the 150-plus Russian satellites now in orbit are thought to have some military use. The numbers are approximate, because neither government talks about the matter. The Pentagon, for example, considers the Atlantis launch a classified military mission for which no information will be provided. It will neither confirm nor deny that the cargo is a radar-imaging satellite. As approximate as the tallies are, they demonstrate the growing reliance of the two superpowers on military space systems. It was only three decades ago - in 1957 with Russia's Sputnik - that mankind developed the ability to put a manmade object into orbit.

Now, military satellites are in orbit spying on facilities and forces, scanning the radio waves as electronic ferrets, watching for nuclear explosions or missile launches and mapping the Earth's surface. Even the seemingly mundane tasks in space have become important for war-fighting. Communications is an obvious example, but there are others. For example, the latest generation of navigation satellites helps provide the pinpoint accuracy now claimed for nuclear missiles like the giant MX. Among other functions, these satellites allow the military to synchronize its watches down to billionths of a second. And scrutinizing the weather becomes essential in the event of a war. Both the United States and Soviet Union are operating advanced meteorological satellites to aid low-level bombers, detect solar flares and find holes in cloud cover for reconnaissance work.

The United States now has 20 military satellites of various types waiting to go into orbit - victims of the launch hiatus forced by the Challenger disaster and unrelated problems with unmanned Titan boosters. As that backlog is slowly erased, Arkin, Pike and others suggest the Pentagon - and perhaps the Kremlin - will face other problems with their satellite hardware besides protecting them as tempting targets. "The expense of these new types of satellites is not to be believed," says Arkin. "We're going to have to look at a single satellite the way we look at an aircraft carrier. These satellites alone are costing $250 million and up."

Such complaints don't bother Pentagon officials, because they see no alternative.

(Deseret News, Dec. 3, 1988 - edited)

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #5 on: 07/06/2012 06:18 PM »
Pentagon shifting its reliance from the shuttles to Air Force rockets

While Friday's launch of Atlantis on a secret mission marks the Pentagon's return as a shuttle customer, the military is taking steps to sharply cut its reliance on the shuttle fleet. The Atlantis lifted off from launch pad 39-B, one of two shuttle pads at NASA's Kennedy Space Center here. But the real activity in the next year will be down the beach at the Air Force's Eastern Space and Missile Center.

There, where the old Mercury capsules were launched during the early days of the space program, the Air Force is preparing to launch 16 expendable rockets by the end of September 1989. That includes a Delta 2 rocket and a Titan 4 rocket now sitting on launch pads. By 1991, the Air Force expects its launch rate for expendable rockets to be more than two dozen a year. That will include military payloads and commercial satellites for which the Air Force will provide launch facilities.

"We're going to be real busy," said Lt. Col. Ron Rand, spokesman for the missile center. There is concern, he said, that the anticipated launch rate will strain the resources of the launch facility. "We're going to be quadrupling, or even more, our launch rate with the same number of people," Rand said. Air Force officials are concerned that they not fall into the same schedule pressures with their unmanned rockets that plagued NASA prior to the Challenger disaster. "We're going to do it right," Rand said. "You don't have people aboard, but still you're launching a critical and valuable national resource."

The military payloads includes spy and communications satellites and "Star Wars" experiments. The two rockets sitting on launch pads with military payloads were to have been launched in October. There were delays in updating the launch pads and placing the payloads aboard the rockets, Rand said. The launches now will be early next year, he said. The first major commercial launch under Air Force auspices - a satellite for India - is scheduled for April.

Even before the Challenger was destroyed in January 1986, the Air Force had been edgy about the policy of putting virtually all U.S. space cargoes aboard the shuttle. The service convinced Congress to allow it to buy 10 Titan 4 rockets as a backup to the shuttle. After the Challenger disaster, the Air Force ordered 13 more Titans, 20 medium-size Delta 2 rockets and 11 upgraded Atlas Centaurs, also medium-lift rockets.

The Pentagon now spends about twice as much on space programs as NASA, whose current budget is about $11 billion. Despite its aggressive program to buy expendable rockets, the Air Force will continue to use the shuttle to deploy a backload of military cargoes that were specifically designed to fly only on the shuttle. The Pentagon will fly 10 more shuttles through 1993. But the plans to operate a separate facility for military shuttle launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California have been shelved indefinitely and an unused launch facility, costing about $3 billion, is in mothballs.

Even with its accelerated schedule of rocket launches, some analysts say the Pentagon may not be able to significantly cut the operations costs of the launches. A recent report by the congressional Office of Technology Assessment concluded that "the number and diversity of payloads NASA and DOD (the Department of Defense) now plan to launch through the late 1990s do not meet the conditions necessary for dramatic cost reductions." (Earl Lane, Newsday, Dec. 4, 1988)

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #6 on: 07/06/2012 06:21 PM »
September 14, 1987: ABBEY’S LAST CREW NOMINATION
Six weeks before his own reassignment to NASA HQ in Washington, D.C., the Director of Flight Crew Operations officially nominates five crewmembers for STS-27, at the time targeted for early fall 1988. “We were the last crew ever to receive news of our mission assignment from George Abbey,” Mike Mullane explains in “Riding Rockets”. He continues:

As I floated in weightless joy back to my office, I considered for the billionth time that strange man known as George Washington Sherman Abbey. He defied analysis. To borrow a quote from Winston Churchill, George was “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” It seemed he went out of his way to drive astronauts to loathe him. Even in this STS-27 crew assignment some would be rightly embittered. Bill Shepherd was class of 1984 and would be flying his first mission before two mission specialists from the class of 1980, Bob Springer and Jim Bagian, would fly their rookie flights. And STS-27 would mean Hoot Gibson would be flying his second mission as commander before eight other TFNG pilots had yet to command their first mission. The STS-27 crew assignment press release was going to be a bitter pill for many in the office to swallow.

Hoot would later tell me Abbey had informed him several weeks before the official announcement that he would be the CDR of STS-27. Hoot had replied, “George, it’s not my turn.” Abbey had said, “Turns have nothing to do with it.” He might as well have said, “I don’t give a crap about astronaut morale.” The statements were identical.

That evening, as I told the kids about the flight, my sixteen-year-old daughter, Laura, said, “You’re not going to die on me, are you?” She said it with a smile, trying to make a joke out of it – a chip off the old block – but I knew she was worried. So were Donna, Pat and Amy. And I knew, as soon as STS-26 was on the ground, I would be worried. Just as it had been with STS 41-D, I knew Prime Crew night terrors awaited me for STS-27. But I had to do this. I couldn’t stop or turn away from a flight into space any more than a migratory bird could ignore the change of seasons. It was in my DNA, beyond rational understanding. (Mike Mullane: “Riding Rockets”, 2006, pp. 261/262 – edited)

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #7 on: 07/06/2012 06:23 PM »
July 15, 1988: RELEASE OF STS-27 CREW INSIGNIA
NASA has released the official insignia for mission STS-27. The crew patch depicts the Space Shuttle launching in front of a multi-colored rainbow and seven stars. This symbolizes America’s triumphant return to space but also commemorates the Challenger Seven. The names of the STS-27 astronauts are located along the border of the patch; all five crewmen have contributed to the design.

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #8 on: 07/06/2012 06:27 PM »
Welcome to the STS-27 Crew Training

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #9 on: 07/06/2012 06:30 PM »

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #10 on: 07/06/2012 06:34 PM »

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #11 on: 07/06/2012 06:35 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #12 on: 07/06/2012 06:39 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #13 on: 07/06/2012 06:45 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #14 on: 07/06/2012 06:50 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #15 on: 07/06/2012 06:54 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #16 on: 07/06/2012 06:57 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #17 on: 07/06/2012 07:02 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #18 on: 07/06/2012 07:06 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Atlantis STS-27 – Battered and Bruised
« Reply #19 on: 07/06/2012 07:12 PM »

Tags: STS-27