When We Left Earth Part 5: The Shuttle – HD


[ Crowd cheering ] NARRATOR : I n 1 969, a group
of astronauts change the worId. They ride the biggest rocket
ever buiIt to the moon. It’s the cuImination of more than 1 0 years
of space pioneering and a foundation
for more than four decades of expIoring worIds
beyond our own. This is the story
of our greatest adventure. CR I PPEN :
The very first time I saw the shuttIe sitting
on the back of that 7 4 7, I thought,
”We have screwed up bad. This is never going to work. ” NARRATOR : NASA prepares to test
a radicaI new kind of spaceship. The first with wings. Rockets wiII Iaunch it
into orbit, but it Iands Iike a pIane. First, they have to find out
if it can fIy. CR I PPEN :
We did something we caIIed an approach-and-Ianding test. We modified a 7 4 7 so that it couId carry
the shuttIe on top of it. NARRATOR : Gemini and ApoIIo
veteran John Young foIIows the new orbiter, studying its every move. YOUNG :
I was a test piIot out there, and I was fIying the formation
on the 7 4 7. I’m the chase piIot. MAN : Go ahead. Okay, 30 seconds
to the SRT minus-one caII. Go. -Network.
-Go. -Echo.
-Go. -FAO.
-Go. Arm. Houston is go for SEP.
Have a great fIight. Stand by. Sideways Iurch,
just Iike they said. CR I PPEN : They actuaIIy
jettisoned the orbiter from it. MAN :
Okay, she’s fIying good. 250.
Starting to fIare. It’s an awesome sight. MAN :
Okay, 1 1 -aIpha pushing over. NARRATOR : The worId’s biggest
spaceship gIides through the sky over the CaIifornia desert. KRANZ: Engines cause probIems,
more compIexity, right on down the Iine. Why don’t we design it
from the very beginning to be an unpowered gIider? NARRATOR : The shuttIe faIIs
through the atmosphere at 1 , 000 feet every 6 seconds. -. . . 1 95 and 20, 000.
-You got it, Gordo. NARRATOR :
It has onIy one chance to Iand. MAN :
Straight. It has no go-around capabiIity. MAN :
Standing by the gear. CR I PPEN : It’s been reIated
to fIying Iike a brick because it comes down so fast
and the wings don’t generate aII that much Iift. MAN :
200 feet. . . NARRATOR :
The shuttIe Iands onIy 50 miIes per hour faster
than a 7 4 7. MAN :
Touch down here. Down.
Gear is down. Speed brakes are tracking. NARRATOR : Touchdown
at Edwards Air Force Base Iaunches a new era in America’s
expIoration of space. NASA is reinventing itseIf. A new spaceship is designed
for more practicaI missions — Iaunching sateIIites,
repairs, deIiveries, and it has to fIy
over and over again. CR I PPEN : The space shuttIe
is a unique vehicIe. It was designed to be reusabIe. We need a space pIane that can
take off from a space board and come and Iand on any runway. Great idea. So Iet’s buiId
this space pIane. KRANZ: The mission of a shuttIe
was we had to retrieve items, we had to bring packages in that
we couId accompIish repair on. It was basicaIIy
a muItipurpose spacecraft, suited to a Iarge number
of tasks, that we wouId fIy repeatedIy. M USGRAVE: It was designed
to make space fIight routine. Safe, reIiabIe, on time. And wow. NARRATOR : But the shuttIe
wiII have to stand up to the hostiIe environment
of space, especiaIIy extremes
of hot and coId. BARBREE: You don’t know
if you’re gonna burn up when you come back
through the atmosphere. NARRATOR :
Like aII spacecraft, it wiII have to withstand
temperatures of more than 3, 000 degrees
during reentry. The engineers came up with a
system of tiIes, thermaI tiIes, that bIanket the whoIe
entire orbiter. The tiIes are what
our thermaI-protection system primariIy consists of
on board the shuttIe, are about the consistency of
Styrofoam, and they’re gIued on. M USGRAVE: So you’II have
this massive surface area. The tiIes not onIy
got to reject aII the heat, but they aIso got to be
very Iight. CR I PPEN :
They’re very fragiIe. It’s easy to ding one. And, depending on the size
of the ding and where it is, it couId be criticaI to
the survivaI of the spaceship. You’re on the gIide scope.
We see you on the gIide scope. 250 knots. NARRATOR : 3 1 , 000 tiIes cover
the orbiter’s aIuminum sheII. They’re gIued
to a bIanket of fireproofing, aIIowing them to fIex
with the shuttIe’s frame. EarIy tests don’t go weII. Many tiIes just faII off. YOUNG : They toId me
you couId hit the edge with a basebaII bat
and it won’t hurt it. They weren’t exactIy
teIIing me the truth. [ ChuckIes ] NARRATOR :
Two soIid rocket boosters with a combined
44 miIIion horsepower wiII bIast the shuttIe
into space. KRANZ: During the first stage
of powered fIight, when you’re on the soIid
rockets, there’s no escape. There was no way to shut them
down, no way to throttIe them, so if you had a probIem
with those, you rode it out untiI you couId
separate from the soIids. BARBREE: A Iot of peopIe thought
one soIid rocket wouId ignite and they’d cartwheeI out
this way. NARRATOR : For the shuttIe’s
three main engines, NASA must deveIop rockets
that are compact, efficient, and capabIe of Iifting
enormous payIoads into orbit. YOUNG : Every time we’d turn
around and discuss the engines, one of the engines wouId bIow up
and catch fire. I didn’t reaIize it was gonna be
so hard to get there from where we’re at,
but it was a pretty tough road. CR I PPEN : I Iearned when John
was worried about something, I ought to be worried about it
as weII. NARRATOR :
NASA upgrades the rockets and deveIops a new supergIue to
keep the tiIes from faIIing off. Four years
after the first gIide test, the shuttIe is finaIIy ready
to fIy into space. The orbiter is designed
for a crew of seven. For the first high-risk mission,
NASA is sending onIy two. CR I PPEN :
I was with the then-director of fIight-crew operations. Turns to me and says, ”Cripp, how wouId you
Iike to fIy the first one?” Send the gear. Gear down. NARRATOR :
It wiII be Bob Crippen’s first fIight into space. Okay.
That does it. I was doing handsprings
at that point. NARRATOR :
When Commander John Young first Iearns
NASA wiII buiId a shuttIe, it’s years earIier,
and he’s a Iong way from home. I was on the moon. Yeah.
Yeah, I was on the moon. CR I PPEN : John Young was the
chief of the Astronaut Office, waIked on the moon onApollo 1 6. He was the obvious choice to be
commander of the first fIight. John was the right guy to fIy
this first shuttIe mission. NARRATOR : The shuttIe is boIted
to the soIid rocket boosters and externaI fueI tank
and ready to fIy. CR I PPEN : When it comes out
on the mobiIe Iaunch pIatform, when the crawIer takes it out to
the pad, it’s an awesome sight. It’s beautifuI, but not in
a streamIine sort of way. NARRATOR :
The same crawIer that carried the giant
Saturn V rockets for the moon missions takes the shuttIe
to the same Iaunch compIex. It Iooks to me Iike
it’s just aII kinds of muscIe ’cause it’s got aII these
engines and soIid rockets. NARRATOR :
Every other NASA project has fIown unmanned test fIights
first. Not this time. BARBREE: This was everything
up on the first mission. Never been done before. And these two idiots
go out on top of it. YOUNG : We didn’t have
any idea about probabiIity, risk assessment, when
the shuttIe was first Iaunched. Anybody thinks they can
statisticaIIy predict when something with 2 miIIion
moving parts is gonna faiI is sort of smoking something
they shouIdn’t be, probabIy. Yeah. NARRATOR :
For the first time in six years, NASA starts a countdown
to Iaunch astronauts into space. CR I PPEN : Wake up in the morning,
have a nice breakfast. They wire you up so they can
monitor your heartbeat. WaIk you out to this IittIe bus
that we have, and there’s usuaIIy
a IittIe press out there. You get to wave at them. Then you cIimb
on the IittIe bus, and they take you
out to the Iaunchpad. KRANZ:
From my standpoint, this was reaIIy a mission
in which I prayed a Iot. I reaIIy had some concerns because there were
so many unknowns. We had never fIown
a spacecraft manned for the first time before. MAN :
40, Cap Com.Columbia, Houston,
you’re go at 40. NARRATOR : HaIf a miIIion peopIe
come to the Cape to watch John Young
and Bob Crippen fIy the first shuttIe
into space. MAN : If you see anything
you don’t understand when we’re going down here,
we got seven hoId points. You remember where they are. Seven minutes,
we got one at five minutes, we got one at four,
and two more. . . CR I PPEN : It was
a very compIicated vehicIe. And I reaIIy thought
that we’d do Iots of countdowns before we actuaIIy Iifted off. MAN :
1 5-1 0 Iift-off. Pick up in about a minute
and a haIf here. -DPS.
-We’re go, fIight. -Guidance?
-Go. -FI DO?
-Go. CR I PPEN : And it was onIy when
the count got inside of a minute that I turned to John and I
said, ” I think we might do it. ” That’s when my heart rate
went up to about 1 30. John’s was a nice, caIm 90. I didn’t ever ask him
if he was nervous. I never thought of that. ShouId I have thought of that? MAN :
T-minus 1 0. . . 9. . . 8. . . 7. . . 6. . . 5. . . 4. . . We’ve gone
for main engine start. NARRATOR : Once the soIid
rocket boosters ignite, they can’t be cut off. The shuttIe
is committed to fIight. The main engines start,
you know it’s aIive. And the soIids
reaIIy teII you that. You know you’re headed
somewhere, because it’s a nice kick
in the pants. I can see the tower going by. By the time you’ve cIeared
above the tower, you’re going, aIready,
over 1 00 miIes an hour. MAN :Columbia, Houston,
we have 40 seconds to LOS. Configure LOS. You’re Iooking
good burning over the hiII. We’II see you at Madrid. Mark ”A” off. And ”B” off. CR I PPEN : I’ve Iikened it
to driving my oId truck down a washboard country road. It’s kind of Iike this. I don’t think comfort
is what you’re Iooking for when you’re going uphiII. You’re Iooking to get there. CR I PPEN :
The sound went away. I reaIIy thought that
aII the engines had quit. MAN :
Steps one and two of the. . . YOUNG :
I figured that once we made it to where there wasn’t anything
bIowing up and catching fire, we were home safe. CR I PPEN :
CheckIists start fIoating. Trash starts fIoating. We get debris
coming out of here. So it’s obviousIy
we’re weightIess. -[ Beep ]
-Go ahead, then. Looking out the window —
shuttIe’s got great windows — there’s the Earth. Roger, Houston. And we’re passing
Iots of cIouds. NARRATOR : Crippen and Young fIy
the shuttIe through space for more than two days. They orbit the Earth 36 times. [ Laughs ] Houston is with you at Maua. NARRATOR : Reentry wiII test
the thermaI tiIes when the shuttIe
hits the atmosphere at 1 4, 000 miIes an hour. CR I PPEN :
We were in the dark at the time. One of the dramatic things
that I did notice was, aII of a sudden,
the outside, which was supposed to be dark,
started gIowing this soft pink. And it was obvious that those
IittIe moIecuIes out there were getting very warm. VeIocity Mach 2. Sink rate, stiII Iosing aItitude at the rate
of about 200 feet per second. This was one of the first times everybody started getting
a sense of speed. As we came in Iower,
you couId reaIIy get a sense of, ”Hey, we’re going pretty fast. ” Cripp said he Iooked out
the window and said, ”What a way to come
to CaIifornia. ” We knew we were coming
across the West Coast over Santa Barbara, and you couId see
where you turn in to Runway 23. CR I PPEN :
Gear down. Landing went perfect,
and John greased it home. About the softest Ianding
you couId ever imagine, and when we finaIIy got wheeI
stop, John and I shook hands. FIight controI,
report steady braking. And John was as excited
as I’ve ever seen that man get. They said
it was a pretty good mission. I don’t know if it was dangerous
or not. We weren’t smart enough to know
whether it was dangerous or not. We did it. We did it. NARRATOR : Crippen and Young
are the first astronauts to return from space
in a reusabIe vehicIe. It was about
as perfect a mission as we couId have ever executed. NARRATOR :
The shuttIe era begins. The orbiter is scheduIed to fIy
up to 2 4 times a year. G I BSON :
For the first time, you couId carry something
up to space, drop it off and Ieave it there
for six months or so, Iet it be exposed
to the space environment, the radiation, aII of
the different things that we see in space —
the vacuum — and then fIy
another space shuttIe up, pick it back up,
and bring it back down. NARRATOR :
To give astronauts more freedom to work outside
the spacecraft, NASA designs a new machine with the chance to fuIfiII the
dream that man can fIy in space. One of the most
exciting things we did on my very first space fIight was something
that had never been done before. And that was to fIy
the Buck Rogers jet backpack. NARRATOR : NASA caIIs it
the manned maneuvering unit. ControIIed by 2 4 thrusters
firing bursts off nitrogen gas, the jetpack provides
Iife support, communications, and the power
to steer through space. McCANDLESS: We were approved
to buiId the maneuvering unit for the shuttIe program, and I was picked to be
the first to fIy it. NARRATOR : Bruce McCandIess
is a NASA veteran. He worked the moon Iandings
in M ission ControI but has never been to space. The preparation
for the space waIk takes a good hour and a haIf,
two hours. Put on the Iiquid-cooI garment
in the air Iock and then cIosed it up. NARRATOR : No astronaut
has ever waIked in space without being firmIy tethered
to the ship. PeopIe have asked me if I was
apprehensive or nervous. But basicaIIy,
it was a feeIing of reIief that we had finaIIy gotten
to this point. MAN :
Okay, Bruce, we see your port. McCANDLESS:
Upon opening the hatch, I was just seeing nothing
down beIow but Earth. It was unsettIing. We’II check on it for you. G I BSON : So I’m sitting there
with a camera in my hand, and never forget, when Bruce McCandIess got
about 1 5 away, I Iook through the viewfinder
the first time and Iooked at this image
out there of him fIoating away from us. And I thought to myseIf, ”What
a spectacuIar image this is. If I don’t mess this picture up, I’m gonna get some
magazine covers with this. ” McCANDLESS:
How are you reading? MAN : Roger, Bruce.
Loud and cIear. NARRATOR :
I n the shadow of the Earth, the temperature is more than
250 degrees beIow freezing. McCANDLESS:
I got so coId that I was shivering
and my teeth were chattering. NARRATOR : McCandIess spends
more than four hours fIying the jetpack
through space. G I BSON : It was a tremendousIy
exciting moment to Iook out the window and watch
Bruce McCandIess fIoating away and drifting out to 300 feet
away from the space shuttIe, the Iength of a footbaII fieId
away from us. MAN : Just passed
over FIorida and Cuba. McCANDLESS:
WeII, I guess to break it, Robert is gonna have to go
1 0% faster. Looks Iike FIorida. It is FIorida!
It’s the Cape. MAN : Yeah, you’re on
a stateside pass, Bruce. McCANDLESS:
I think I got enough. . . NARRATOR : Space fIight
is back on the front page. I mages from shuttIe missions
rivaI science fiction. The shuttIe was probabIy
the finest fIying machine that NASA has ever buiIt. MAN : There’s the finaI turn
into the HAC. I beIieve it’s reaIIy
the pinnacIe of American
aerospace technoIogy. It revoIutionized
our knowIedge of aerodynamics. MAN :
. . . end of the runway. Airspeed 256 knots. NARRATOR :
But the shuttIe becomes a victim
of its own success. MAN :
Gear down. NARRATOR : It fIies so often,
it’s taken for granted. The pubIic Ioses interest. BARBREE: As they continued
to fIy, it got more routine. PeopIe got more confident. AII of a sudden, they had an airIiner that peopIe
couId ride on safeIy. They expected it to work. They expected no probIem
with it. NASA was arrogant. Thought they couIdn’t do
anything wrong. NARRATOR : NASA needs to capture
the pubIic’s imagination again. Their answer —
a teacher in space and Iessons beamed down
from the shuttIe in orbit. 1 0, 000 teachers appIy. BARBREE:
Christa McAuIiffe was seIected, and they couId not have seIected
a better person. I’ve made nine wonderfuI friends
over the Iast two weeks. When that shuttIe goes,
there might be one body. . . but there’s gonna be 1 0 souIs
that I’m taking with me. -Thank you.
-That’s great. NARRATOR : Barbara Morgan
is Christa’s backup. MORGAN : WeII, you’re aIways
a IittIe disappointed, and I tried to bump Christa off
with poison cookies, but she wouId never eat them. I was just surprised
and very pIeased to be abIe to have
the opportunity to train aIongside. NARRATOR : A sociaI studies
teacher and mother of two from Concord, New Hampshire, Christa wiII fIy
on theChallenger, known as the workhorse
of the shuttIe fIeet. Three months before her fIight, Christa and Barbara watch
their first shuttIe Iaunch. MAN :
Main engine start. 3. . . 2. . . 1 . . . 0. We have soIid rocket booster
ignition and Iift-off. MORGAN :
There’s joy. There’s aIso
a sense of surprise. They are off. I think the biggest surprise
was how bright it was and how Ioud it was. And then,
when you feeI the sound just coming up through your body and pounding in your chest
and everything. Oh, my God !
Look at it! MORGAN : It was wonderfuI
to be there together and to know
that Christa’s turn was next. MAN :
Preparing to throttIe down. 7 5 % on main engines. 30 seconds from Iaunch. BARBREE: The night before,
I’m getting from my sources that it’s too coId tomorrow
to fIy. NARRATOR : Temperatures
drop beIow freezing. The shuttIe has never Iaunched
in such extreme conditions. KRANZ:
The temperatures were a concern. But it was not the kind of thing
that wouId say, ”No, we’ve got a very soIid
reason for a no-go that day. ” BARBREE:
It got down to 2 7 degrees. And I caIIed my desk and I want
to do a report onThe Today Showthat they shouIdn’t be
taking off today. After aII,
they have the teacher on board. MORGAN : Very excited about
expIoration and about space and about sharing it
with everyone. The smiIes on their faces
and the extreme joy — They were reaIIy happy to be
doing what they were doing. MAN : And we’re at T-minus
9 minutes and counting. BARBREE:
PeopIe thought that because a teacher
wouId be on board that it might
rejuvenate attention. But it did not. MAN :
T-minus 7 minutes and counting. BARBREE: There weren’t that many
members here of the press. MAN :
PiIot M ike Smith has given. . . NARRATOR : The mission
has aIready been postponed severaI times
due to mechanicaI probIems and bad weather. Throughout the morning, engineers express concern about
the unusuaIIy Iow temperatures. At 1 1 :38 a. m. ,Challenger
is cIeared for Iaunch. MAN : Ground Iaunch sequencer
program has been initiated. WOMAN : Turn on your AP
and voice recorders. MAN :
WiII do. I remember
I Iooked in their eyes and I wished them weII
on the journey. MAN : T-minus 2 minutes
and 20 seconds. G I BSON : Someone stuck their head
into the big conference room and said, ”Hey, guys,Challengeris about two minutes
from Iift-off. You want to take a break
and watch the Iaunch?” MAN :
T-minus 1 minute and counting. NARRATOR : Christa’s parents
are at the Cape for the Iaunch. MAN : Sound suppression system
now armed. M USGRAVE:
I’ve done a Iot of Iaunches on the top of the Iaunch-controI
roof out here, and I’ve seen famiIies. They’re worried. They’re scared.
They’re in tears. That’s not nice. MAN :
T-minus 1 0. . . 9. . . 8. . . 7. . . 6. . . We have main engine start. 4. . . 3. . . 2. . . 1 . And Iift-off. KRANZ: We heard ”ignition. ”
We heard ”Iift-off. ” I heard the caII
”throttIe down. ” Everything was Iooking normaI.
I was watching the main engines. MAN :
Roger roII,Challenger. G I BSON : You’re sitting there
quietIy rooting for them. You’re sitting there
quietIy saying, ”Go,Challenger.
Go,Challenger. ”MAN :Challenger
now heading downrange. Preparing to rethrottIe
the engines back up to 1 00%. It seemed to be just kind of
crawIing in space. MAN : This is one for
The Guinness Book of Recordswith the size fIight crew
aboard.Challenger,
go with throttIe up. 3, 305. FIight, FI DO. -FIight, FI DO
-Go ahead. RSO reports vehicIe expIoded. FIight controIIers here Iooking
very carefuIIy at the situation. KRANZ:
Seconds Iater, I happened to see sort of
a fIicker over on the TV. MAN : FIight GC,
we’ve had negative contact. Okay, aII operators
watch your data carefuIIy. KRANZ:
And I Iooked over, and I saw this picture
of this expanding firebaII with pieces moving
in aII directions. NARRATOR : The crippIed rocket
boosters careen out of controI. SpeciaIIy decIassified footage shows them being
remoteIy destroyed. MAN : We have a report
from the fIight dynamics officer that the vehicIe has expIoded. -FIight director confirms that.
-Okay. We are Iooking at checking
with the recovery forces to see what can be done
at this point. I knew instantIy that none
of them couId possibIy survive because we didn’t have
parachutes, we didn’t have
pressure suits, and at the aItitude
that they broke up at, there was no way they were gonna
maintain consciousness. It was immediateIy obvious to me that we had Iost
the entire crew. MORGAN :
It didn’t Iook normaI. And I knew that from the amount
of training that we had had and from the Iaunch
that we had seen previous, that Christa and I
had witnessed. MAN :
We are now Iooking at aII the. . . MORGAN :
Very, very sad time. I feIt horribIe. It was a huge Ioss,
and it aIways wiII be. KRANZ: I beIieve every person
in M ission ControI came to grips with his demons
that day. And I think severaI of us said
a few prayers for the crew. And we aIso prayed for the team
in M ission ControI, the team in Iaunch controI, and those peopIe
who wouId have to Iive with the aftermath
of this accident. MAN :
Don’t reconfigure your consoIe. Make hard copies
of aII your dispIays. Make sure you protect
any data source you have. PRES. BUSH : I was Vice President
of the United States way back then. I went down there
whenChallengerbIew up. It was a terribIe tragedy,
of course. So Reagan asked me to go down
to comfort the famiIies. It was a very moving thing
for me to see these famiIies in grief. I think the thing
that reaIIy moved me was President Reagan’s comments
after that. We wiII never forget them, nor the Iast time we saw them,
this morning, as they prepared for their
journey and waved goodbye and sIipped the surIy bonds
of Earth to touch the face of God. Thank you. It was so beautifuI.
I couId never have done that. I wouId have choked up
too badIy. NARRATOR :
For the first time, NASA Ioses astronauts
during a mission. They shut down
the shuttIe program and Iaunch
a compIete investigation, reconstructing
the 7 3-second mission in spIit-second intervaIs. The report is scathing. M USGRAVE: Turns very rapidIy
from grief to anger because you discovered there was gross negIigence
to Iaunch on that day — just pIain negIigence. We had aII the data. We knew how bad everything was. We knew the reIationships
of ”O” rings and temperature. You know,
it turns to sheer anger. NARRATOR :
The investigation concIudes that coId weather caused
the faiIure of an ”O” ring, a rubber gasket
in the right rocket booster. It Ieaked fIames that ignited
the externaI fueI tank. The report aIso chronicIes the finaI moments
in the astronauts’ Iives. G I BSON : We know that the crew
ofChallengersurvived the breakup. We know that three
of the crew members turned on their air packs
after the vehicIe broke up. Now,Challenger
was at 49, 000 feet going uphiII at a tremendous
rate when it broke up. And it coasted uphiII
to 67, 000 feet. Very, very high aItitude. There’s no way in the worId that the crew was going to
maintain consciousness in that kind of an environment. So we beIieve they were aIive. But we aIso beIieve they were unconscious
when they hit the water. MAN : Contingency procedures
are in effect. They were aIive
untiI they hit the water. NARRATOR : No shuttIe fIies
for 2 1 /2 years. A Iot of second-guessing
in the Congress about the whoIe program and whether we were taking
proper care of these peopIe
going out into space and whether the program
was worth it. But NASA determined
to go forward with the support of the Congress
and of the American peopIe, and forward it went. G I BSON :
After the Ioss ofChallenger, it took us aImost three years
to redesign and rebuiId and get ready to feeI confident
about going to space again. After theChallengeraccident, the press took a whoIe different
outIook towards NASA. The outIook towards NASA was,
”We’re not sure we beIieve you when you say
you’re gonna do this. ” NARRATOR : ShuttIe fIights resume
in September 1 988. After five missions, the fIeet of three orbiters is
fIying a reguIar scheduIe again. We have to continue
to move forward. To stop in space
is to surrender. NARRATOR :
The orbiterDiscoveryroIIs out for the most ambitious mission
of the shuttIe era. It promises to unIock
age-oId mysteries about the origins
of the universe, to Iook deep into space
for cIues to the distant past. M USGRAVE: The promise of HubbIe
to the pubIic was the power. It was gonna show them
their universe in a way they’d never seen it
before. We said HubbIe wouId probabIy
answer the question ”What is the age
of the universe?” HubbIe was going to see gaIaxies
and stars being born. HOFFMAN :
Here was a new teIescope, which was going to be Iaunched
by the shuttIe, and, you know,
somehow it was gonna make these incredibIe things
possibIe. NARRATOR : HubbIe is a pioneering
scientific mission, Iaunching the most powerfuI
teIescope ever buiIt. At 2 4, 000 pounds,
it’s the size of a city bus. MAN :
This is shuttIe Iaunch controI at T-minus 3 hours and hoIding. -OTC, LVCC.
-Go ahead. NARRATOR :
The teIescope has to be high above the Earth’s
radiant Iight, which couId distort its view
into deep space. The desire was to get it
as high as we possibIy couId. HAWLEY:
NormaIIy, the shuttIe wouId fIy between 1 50, 1 7 0 nauticaI miIes. And for HubbIe, we wanted to do
aImost twice that. And that reaIIy pushed us to the Iimit of what
the shuttIe couId achieve. NARRATOR :Discovery
wiII Iaunch HubbIe higher than any spacecraft has fIown
since men went to the moon. NASA seIects a veteran crew to deIiver the worId’s
most expensive teIescope, with a price tag
topping $ 1 . 5 biIIion. McCANDLESS: SDS 3 1
was a high-profiIe mission. Because we had aII fIown before, we had a bit of a Ieg up
on training. We didn’t have to start at zero. MAN : PiIot CharIie BoIden,
Bruce McCandIess. NARRATOR :
Kathy SuIIivan is the first American woman
to waIk in space. This is her second
shuttIe mission. SULLIVAN : There’s thousands
and thousands of things that have to be
right on the money and checked hundreds of times
a second to be sure
everything’s ready to go. And it has to aII mesh,
you know, with an astonishing
kind of precision in the Iast minute or so
of a countdown. The odds ought to be that
you never get off the pIanet. Let’s go do this. MAN :
Roger roII,Discovery.Discovery,
go with throttIe up. It wasn’t that Iong
sinceChallenger. HubbIe was the biggest
and Iargest thing we had ever tried to depIoy. I don’t think any of us
wanted HubbIe to have any sort of a major
probIem afterChallenger. WOMAN :Discovery’sveIocity
now 2, 300 feet per second and is downrange
eight nauticaI miIes. NARRATOR :
On scheduIe,Discoveryjettisons
the soIid rocket boosters.Discoveryburns through
2, 000 tons of fueI to reach 3 7 0 miIes
above the Earth, more than twice as high
as the shuttIe’s normaI orbit. SHR IVER : I was abIe to Iook out
pretty much right away after main engine cutoff. And I distinctIy remember
the feeIing, ”Wow. This is a Iot higher
than I was Iast time. ” SULLIVAN : We were aII struck
by how fabuIousIy different the doubIing of the aItitude
made the Earth Iook. McCANDLESS:
That was and is the highest that any of us had been and
that the shuttIe has ever been, even to date. NARRATOR :
The higher they are, the more fueI they’II need
to get home. If disaster strikes
and it runs out, they’II be stuck in space, unabIe to return
before their oxygen is gone. You Iooked up at the key
onboard-shuttIe fueI gauges. You know, the moment you got
there, they were reading 49%. SHR IVER : Hmm. You wonder, ”WeII,
is that reaIIy gonna be enough to get us back down?” SULLIVAN : You’ve stiII got
five or six days to go, and you’re aIready through
haIf your propeIIent. Any indication of a Ieak,
any indication of a Ieak, I’m getting out of there fast, or we don’t get to come home
and taIk with you about it. NARRATOR : The crew pIans
to Iaunch HubbIe the next day. M USGRAVE:
Discovery, Houston. MAN :
Morning, Story. M USGRAVE:
Got to go for HST depIoy arms. NARRATOR : BiII Reeves directs
the fIight from M ission ControI. REEVES:
It was time-criticaI that you get on orbit
as fast as you can, get everything checked out
as fast as you can, and get this teIescope depIoyed. NARRATOR :
Discovery’srobotic arm Iifts HubbIe from the cargo bay. Timing is now criticaI.Discovery, Houston. NARRATOR : HubbIe’s
uItrasensitive instruments need a continuous source
of energy. Its two soIar paneIs
must be fuIIy extended before the teIescope
can be depIoyed, or the extreme temperatures
in space couId cause catastrophic damage. HubbIe’s on a battery, so you
onIy Iast so Iong on batteries. You’ve got to get
the soIar paneIs out, you know, to get your eIectricity. M USGRAVE:
I’d Iike you to go three drift. HAWLEY: So before
the soIar arrays come out, the teIescope
is using battery power, which is fine so Iong
as the arrays come out.Discovery, go pIus SDM depIoy. HAWLEY: They commanded the first
set of soIar arrays to depIoy, and that aII worked properIy. So we’re feeIing pretty good
about things. And then they go to do
the second set. M USGRAVE:Discovery,
we’d Iike three drift from minus SDM depIoy. MAN : Okay, we copy.
Three drift. HAWLEY: You couId see a IittIe
bit of the stored energy in the canister
as the Iatches were reIeased, and the array wouId come out
a IittIe bit and then it wouId stop. And we thought, ”WeII, that’s
not what it’s supposed to do. ” MAN : Houston —Discovery.
Looks Iike motion stopped. REEVES: M y payIoad officer
toId me the array had stopped. I mmediateIy,
we knew we had a probIem. NARRATOR : One good soIar paneI
is keeping HubbIe aIive, but just bareIy. The teIescope is useIess
untiI it’s under fuII power. REEVES: So the payIoad team
were trying to figure out why it wouIdn’t depIoy. So there was a sense of urgency
to get things going. NARRATOR : M ission ControI
scrambIes for a soIution. The crew in space prepares
for an EVA. They may have to crank
the soIar paneI open by hand. Let’s have the EVA crew
press on with EVA prep. Yeah, we had Bruce McCandIess and Kathy SuIIivan
get suited up. Just as insurance. SULLIVAN : We instantIy jumped
into that get-outside mode. Dropped the cameras
and started suiting up. And BiII, at this point, is having to Iisten
to the teIescope guys, ask them, ”Do they think
they’ve got this fixed?” -FIight payIoad.
-Go ahead. They haven’t gotten it yet, and
they’re scratching their heads. They’re working a pIan
right now. I’II get back to you as soon as we get a good pIan
puIIed together. Another thing
I need an answer to is if I can go ahead
and commit the EVA with the thought of going out
and cranking it out if whatever
they’re about to do faiIs. M USGRAVE: We reaIIy expect
to have to go out the door and actuaIIy crank it out
by hand. They want us to just press on
to back them up. We need to get on with it. SHR IVER : Something had to happen
to get that array out, or we’d Iose the teIescope. WOMAN : Okay, FIight.
I’II come back with the answer. I need answers now. SHR IVER : By this time, Bruce and
Kathy are in their space suits. They’re in the air Iock. -FIight FAO
-Come in. Yeah, I don’t feeI comfortabIe
waiting untiI — I don’t either. That’s why
I want the answers now. HAWLEY:
Time is very criticaI. They certainIy were measuring how Iong it wouId take
before the teIescope wouId die. The question I need
is the status of the state of charge
of the batteries at reIease. Are we gonna have
adequate charge? We can onIy get
minus-X transIation. It’s firm. That was a very difficuIt day. We reaIIy earned our pay
that day. NARRATOR :
If the second soIar paneI isn’t generating power soon. . . NASA couId face
a difficuIt decision. -PayIoads.
-Yes. NARRATOR :
Leave HubbIe in orbit untiI another mission can return
and attempt to repair it. At M ission ControI, engineers
search for computer commands that wiII depIoy
the second array. Yes, what we need to do
is command both of the motors. -They ready to go right now?
-Yes. -That’s what they want to do?
-Yes, sir. SULLIVAN : The guys on the ground
figured out an aIternate command. It had taken them
those coupIe of hours to find their way
to that concIusion. REEVES: We gave the command,
and, sure enough, it started to open
and it kept going. NARRATOR : The soIar paneIs
unfoId and get right to work. . . MAN :
Okay, EECOM . NARRATOR :
. . . soaking up sunIight and converting it
into eIectricity. HubbIe is ready for Iaunch. -EagIe?
-Go. -FAO?
-Go. -MAX?
-Go. -ARS?
-Go, FIight. Bruce and I didn’t get to see. I was about this far away
from the waII of the air Iock, staring at a nice, bright,
bIank white waII and Iistening to aII that
happening on the com Ioops. PayIoads, waiting on you. FIight, payIoads, we are go. Cap Com,
we have a go for reIease.Discovery,
go for HubbIe reIease. REEVES: We were very satisfied
with our mission. We had gotten
the teIescope depIoyed. We’d done
what we had set out to do. McCANDLESS:
There was a feeIing of pride and aIso a feeIing
of a new beginning. We’re gonna be abIe to observe
things and answer questions that we thought
were unanswerabIe before. WOMAN :
We’re touched down. [ Cheering ] NARRATOR : The HubbIe Iaunch
revives America’s space program. It’s the high-profiIe mission
NASA needs to put theChallengerdisaster
behind them. And 3 7 0 miIes above the Earth, the HubbIe teIescope
prepares to peer back through space and time to capture images of the origins
of aII things. WEI LER : About two or three weeks
after Iaunch, we started to take
the first images. And a few of us gather
around a screen to see the images
that wouId come back that night. And the focus
didn’t seem to be right. MAN :
They didn’t Iook nearIy as sharp as the experts in the room
expected them to. Sort of Iooked at each other and said, ”That’s the way
it’s supposed to be, isn’t it?” And, of course,
peopIe knew that it wasn’t. NARRATOR :
HubbIe’s main mirror, 8 feet wide
and weighing nearIy a ton, is the wrong shape — ground to
the wrong specifications. Many images are bIurred. HubbIe is nearsighted. WEI LER : It was onIy off by about
a miIIionth of an inch, which is about 1 /50 the diameter
of a human hair. It was absoIuteIy shocking when a coupIe of peopIe
who are optics experts came forward and said,
”You can’t correct it. There’s nothing you can do
about it. ” There’s a significant
sphericaI aberration appears to be present
in the optics — in the opticaI teIescope. M USGRAVE:
You grieve for the fact that, you know, the possibiIities
and they’re gone. But very soon, then, the grief
turns to fIat-out anger. How couId this have happened? I mean, don’t you guys
know how to make teIescopes? WEI LER : PersonaIIy, I feIt Iike
it was the end of the worId. You spend 1 5 years of your
career working on something, and the worId is watching,
and it’s a totaI disaster. As far as you know, it had to have happened on
the ground before it went up? We were a joke.
A nationaI joke. NARRATOR :
The most expensive, most powerfuI teIescope
in the worId is a dud. It’s reaIIy hard now,
in retrospect, to create the sense of outrage
and despair that peopIe were feeIing. This was a, you know,
muItibiIIion-doIIar disaster.

34 Replies to “When We Left Earth Part 5: The Shuttle – HD”

  1. I think the spacehuttle is the most beautiful looking flying machine to this date. A feminin beauty!

  2. SPOILER ALERT: Challenger blows and Hubble gets fixed. Space Shuttle is retired and Russians start to dominate space again.

  3. I remember watching Columbia return to Earth. My teacher took us all to huddle round a TV to see it. I felt a thrill that was dampened by being so distant and not really grasping what was done. The shuttle was a remarkable achievement. It's sad that she's retired.

  4. ''………..never been done before, and these two idiots go on top of it.'' hehehehehehehehehehe……………..

  5. Ein einziges Wackelvideo von gaaaanz schlechter Qualität. Menschen, die solche schlechten Videos drehen und am Computer produzieren, sollte man niemals Geld vom Steuerzahler für die Raumfahrt verwenden lassen.

  6. The shuttle was an ambitious achievement in engineering, a masterpiece in fact. It did suffer from moments of sheer arrogance, as the falling foam and delicate leading edge of the wings proved.

  7. I feel so bad for Christa's parents, because they looked so worried and so devastated when the shuttle blew up

  8. As always in general, they wait until tragedy strike to fix things…. it happens all over in everything. This if a fucked up way of fixing things instead of preventing them.

  9. Why does NASA have to always be capturing the publics Imagination .. Why? The public imagination is not required for space missions. is this some kind of magic trick. that has to capture the imagination of the public to keep them amused? I don't understand this comment??.

  10. The shuttle holds a special place in my heart. Growing up in the 00s it was the spacecraft that I grew up knowing, it's sad to see people undermine just how much of an impact it really had. It put a much more scientific focus on spaceflight rather than just technological feasibility like in the Apollo program.

  11. The next time we leave Earth in 2024, we aren't going back 😆

    The Space Shuttle inspired movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact. Those were great times!

  12. I think NASA deserved to be the laughing stock for how they let it happen that Hubble was unuseable before the admittedly fine repair job they did later.

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