The 1990s were interesting for several reasons, not the least to do with our lessons learned from space. There were also a few firsts.

For instance, Challenger ushered Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) into space in April of 1984. Columbia brought it back to earth in January 1990. ( The LDEF was 30 feet long and 14 feet wide. It hosted many scientific experiments that devised the characteristics of asteroids and other orbital debris and how to detect same. The crew aboard Columbia in this mission was Daniel Bradenstein, James Wetherbee, Bonnie Dunbar, Marsha Ivins, and David Lowe. (

The Long Duration Exposure Facility

Russia sent astronauts aloft to add the Kristall module to Mir in August 1990. The cosmonauts on this flight were Anatoly Solovyov and Aleksandr Balandin. (

Five days at the end of February and the beginning of March saw Atlantis launch taking classified satellites for the Department of Defense into orbit. However, they broke up and reentered the atmosphere. The astronauts on this launch were John Creighton, John Casper, Mike Mullane, David Hilmers, and Pierre Thuot. (

The Space Shuttle Atlantis

The Hubble Space Telescope was deployed aboard the Discovery’s mission into space in April 1990 with Loren Shriver, Charles Bolden, Steven Hawley, Kathryn Sullivan, and Bruce McCandless. (

The Hubble Space Telescope

From August thru mid-December, the crew of Soyuz TM-10 rocketed toward Mir for a spacewalk to fix a hatch that had been damaged on Kvant 2 with cosmonauts Gennady Manakov and Gennady Strekalov. (

Discovery roared into space launching the Ulysses, a robotic space probe that was supposed to orbit the sun to study the various latitudes, in October of 1990. Richard Richards, Robert Cabana, Bruce Melnick, William Shepard, and Thomas Akers were aboard. (

The robotic probe Ulysses

Atlantis flew into space in November to launch more classified satellites for the Department of Defense with astronauts Richard Covey, Frank Culbertson, Carl Meade, Robert Springer, and Charles Gemar. (

Columbia was the next to launch. That was early to mid-December of 1990. She had astronauts Vance Brand, Guy Gardner, Jeffrey Hoffman, John Lounge, Robert Parker, Ronald Parise, and Samuel Durrance aboard. Their mission was to take Astro-1 Into space along with four separate telescopes. (

Between December 1990 and May 1991, the Soviets sent their first Japanese person into space. (Akiyama Toyohiro) Cosmonauts Viktor Afanasiyev and Musa Manarov manned this flight aboard the Soyuz TM-11. (

In April of 1991, Atlantis went into space to take the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory into orbit. During its time in space, it was able to map the Milky Way, discover a bursting pulsar and the blazar active galactic nuclei. It was the first gamma-ray observatory of this type to be launched into orbit. The crew on this mission were Steven Nagel, Kenneth Cameron, Linda Godwin, Jerry Ross, and Jerome Apt. Incidentally, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory stayed in orbit until 2000. (

The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory

Discovery was sent back up in late April thru the first week of May 1991 to launch the SPAS-2 satellite. SPAS-2 was designed to photograph the exterior of the shuttle and observe any anomalies. Mission specialists Michael Coats, Lloyd Hammond, Gregory Harbaugh, Donald McMonagle, Guion Bluford, Charles Leach, and Richard Hieb were aboard Discovery. ( 

The SPAS-2 satellite

The first British astronaut was taken into space aboard the Soviet Soyuz TM-12. (Helen Sharman) The crew on this flight was Anatoly Artsebarsky and Sergey Krikalyov. That was mid-May thru October of 1991. (

In the early summer of 1991, Columbia soared into space to conduct some experiments on jellyfish, rats, and humans. The astronauts aboard were Bryan O’Connor, Sidney Guiterrez, James Bagian, Tamara Jernigan, Rhea Seddon, Francis Gaffney, and Millie Hughes-Fulford. (

Late summer 1991, Atlantis launched to deploy a tracing and data relay satellite with John Blaha, Michael Baker, Shannon Lucid, George Low, and James Adamson as crew. (

Discovery deployed an upper atmosphere satellite for research in September 1991 with the assistance of astronauts John Creighton, Kenneth Reightler, Charles Gemar, James Buchli, and Mark Brown. (

An Austrian astronaut was taken into space for a week in October aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-13. (Franz Viehbock) The crew was Aleksandr Volkov and Toktar Aubakirov. (

Atlantis launched a spy satellite on her mission in late November thru early December 1991 with the assistance of able astronauts Frederick Gregory, Terence Henricks, James Voss, Story Musgrave, Mario Runco, and Thomas Hennen. (

Discovery brought the first Canadian woman into space for a week in January 1992. (Roberta Bondar) Her escorts were astronauts Ronald Grabe, Stephen Oswald, Norman Thagard, William Readdy, David Hilmers, and Ulf Merbold. (

The Russian mission aboard the Soyuz TM-14 was their first after their (USSR) breakup. That was March 17th thru August 10th, 1992. They also hosted the first-ever space fight aboard Mir. The cosmonauts present were Aleksandr Viktorenko, Aleksandr Kalery, and Klaus Dietrich Flade. (

Atlantis took off in March of 1992 with the first Belgium astronaut tagging along. (Dirk Frimout) That was a weeklong flight with astronauts Charles Bolden, Brian Duffy, Kathryn Sullivan, David Leetsma, Michael Foale, and Byron Lichtenberg. (

The first-time multiple people performed a spacewalk together was aboard Endeavor in May 1992. The three on that now famous walk were Thomas Akers, Pierre Thuot, and Richard Hieb. The remainder of her crew were Daniel Brandenstein, Kevin Chilton, Bruce Melnick, and Kathryn Thornton. (

Space Shuttle Endeavor space walk

The space shuttle Columbia ushered up the launch of the U.S. Microgravity Laboratory-1. That mission lasted for about ten days between the end of June and early July 1992. The crew who made this happen were Richard Richards, Kenneth Bowersox, Bonnie Dunbar, Ellen Baker, Carl Meade, Lawrence DeLucas, and Eugene Trinh. (

The U.S. Microgravity Laboratory

Much needed maintenance aboard Mir was required so the Russian Soyuz TM-15 was sent into orbit on a mission from late July 1992 thru February 1, 1993. The cosmonauts that conducted this work were Anatoly Soloyov, Sergy Avdeyev, and Michel Tognini. (

Atlantis lifted off with two firsts. They were the first Swiss astronaut (Claude Nicollier) and the first Italian astronaut (Franco Malerba). That was about a weeklong orbit in the end of July and the beginning of August in 1992 with Loren Shriver, Andrew Allen, Marsha Ivins, and Jeffrey Hoffman as hosts. (

The first African American woman (Mae Jemison) and the first Japanese astronaut (Mohri Mamoru)  were thrust into space aboard the Endeavor with her crew of Robert Gibson, Curtis Brown, Mark Lee, N. Jan Davis, and Jay Apt. That was a week in September 1992. (

The Laser Geodynamics Satellite (LAGEOS II) was deployed from Columbia in late October thru the 1st of November 1992 with astronauts James Wetherbee, Michael Baker, Chris Veach, William Shepard, Tamara Jernigan, and Steven MacLean. LAGEOS II is from the Italian Space Agency. It was built to reflect laser beams back to a series of international laser tracking stations used for geodynamic research. (

The Laser Geodynamics II satellite

Columbia took another large spy satellite into space in December of 1992 with the assistance of astronauts David Walker, Robert Cabana, Guion Bluford, Michael Clifford, and James Voss. (

Endeavor went up next to deliver the sixth tracking and data relay satellite into orbit. Her crew consisted of John Casper, Donald McMonagle, Mario Runco, Gregory Harbaugh, and Susan Helms. That was mid-January 1993. (

Tracking and Data Relay satellite

The Russian-led Soyuz TM-16 was next. Their task was to put a docking target on Mir for the space shuttle Atlantis. Her two man crew was Gennady Manakov and Aleksandr Poleshchuk. They remained there from January 24th until July 22nd, 1993. (

April 1993 Discovery foisted the first Hispanic American woman (Ellen Ochoa) into space and took the second Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science into orbit (ATLAS-2) which was used to collect data on the middle atmospheric changes of the Earth’s atmosphere. The crew on this mission were Kenneth Cameron, Stephen Oswald, Michael Foale, and Kenneth Cockerell. (

The Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science

Spacelab D-2 was delivered by Columbia and her crew (Steven Nagel, Terence Hendricks, Jenny Ross, Charles Precourt, Bernanrd Harris, Ulrich Walter, and Hans Schlegel) for a bit over a weeklong journey in late April and early May 1993. Spacelab D-2 was created by the European Space Agency to study life and material sciences and technological applications while observing the Earth, astronomy, and atmospheric physics. Skylab D-2 processed eighty-eight experiments and was able to capture a free-floating object with a tele-robotic arm controlled by the ground crew in Germany. Both were firsts. ( and )

Endeavor launched the Spacehab laboratory in late June 1993. The astronauts on that voyage were Ronald Grabe, Brian Duffy, George Low, Nancy Sherlock, Peter Wisoff, and Janice Voss. Spacehab is part of the International Space Station and is used for various experiments are a shared laboratory for all working at the Skylab. ( and

The Spacehab Laboratory

Discovery went back into space in September 1993 to launch two satellites. The astronauts on that flight were Frank Culbertson, William Readdy, James Newman, Daniel Bursch, and Carl Walz. (

The first veterinarian (Martin Fettman) was taken into orbit by Columbia and her capable crew comprised of John Blaha, Richard Seafoss, Rhea Seddon, William McArthur, David Wolf, Shannon Lucid to conduct some experiments. (

Endeavor was launched in December 1993 to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Her crew was Richard Covey, Kenneth Bowersox, Kathryn Thornton, Claude Nicollier, Jeffrey Hoffman, Story Musgrave, and Thomas Akers. (

The Soviets set another endurance record with Soyuz TM-18 with cosmonauts Viktor Afanasiyev, Yury Usachyov, and Valery Polyakov. The mission began on January 8th of 1994 and ended March 22nd, 1995. The new record was 437 days and 18 hours. (

February 1994 Discovery set forth to do a few ambitious things. They brought Spacehab 2 and the Wake Shield Facility to the International Space Station along with the first Russian cosmonaut too (Sergy Krikalyov). The crew consisted of; Charles Bolden, Kenneth Reightler, N. Jan Davis, Ronald Sega, and Franklin Chang-Diaz. (

The launch of Spacehab 2

Columbia and her crew went up to conduct some experiments in March of 1994. The astronauts aboard were John Casper, Andrew Allen, Pierre Thuot, Charles Gernar, and Marsha Ivins. (

The Space Radar Laboratory and special mapping radar were taken to the International Space Station in April 1994 aboard Endeavor. The crew members on that flight were Sidney Guiterrez, Kevin Chilton, Jerome Apt, Michael Clifford, Linda Godwin, and Thomas Jones. The Space Radar Laboratory was to be used to measure air pollution from the satellite mapping instrument. ( and;jsessionid=45D37689ADAB64D7DC0865130B06AA08 and )

The Space Radar Laboratory

Soyuz TM-19 was the first spacecraft to perform a manual docking for the Progress resupply ship in November 1994. The cosmonauts on that venture were Yury Malenchenko, and Talgat Musabayev. The Progress is an unmanned Soviet resupply rocket. (

Mukai Chiaki was the first Japanese woman to go into space. She was aboard the Columbia with Robert Cabana, James Halsell, Richard Hieb, Leroy Chiao, and Thomas Aker. That was July 1994. ( )

Richard Richards, Lloyd Hammond, Jerry Linenger, Susan Helms, Carl Meade, and Mark Lee probed the Earth’s atmosphere with a laser when they went into space aboard Discovery in September 1994. (

The Space Radar Laboratory went on their second mission aboard Endeavor the end of September into mid-October 1994 with Michael Baker, Terrence Wilcutt, Steven Smith, Daniel Bursch, Peter Wisoff, and Thomas Jones. (

Atlantis took the third ATLAS Laboratory into space on November of 1994. The astronauts on this mission were Donald McMonagle, Curtis Brown, Ellen Ochoa, Joseph Tanner, Jean-Francois Clervoy, and Scott Parazynski. The third ATLAS Lab was intended to learn about the Earth’s middle atmosphere and see what occurs during solar changes using the Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor, Solar Constant Measurement, Solar Spectrum Measurement, Solar Ultraviolent Spectral Irradiance Monitor, Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectronomy, and the Millimeter-Wave Atmospheric Sounder. ATLAS three was to be aloft for eleven years. The German Space Agency also sent some experimental equipment up with ATLAS three. ( and

The Atlas Space Laboratory

Maneuverability of a space shuttle around Mir was tested by the crew onboard Discovery in February of 1995. Those persons were James Wetherbee, Eileen Collins, Bernard Harris, Michael Foale, Janice Voss, and Vladimir Titov. (

Three telescopes were taken into orbit to observe the sky in ultraviolent light by the space shuttle Endeavor March 1995. Her crew was Steven Oswald, William Gregory, John Grunsfeld, Wendy Lawrence, Tamara Jernigan, Samuel Durrance, and Ronald Parise. (

Soyuz TM-21 was the first Soviet spacecraft to allow an American to pilot it and also their Spektr module to Mir. (Norman Thagard) The other Russian crewmembers were Vladimir Dezhurov and Gennady Strekalov. (

The first American space shuttle allowed to go to Mir was Atlantis in the mid-summer of 1995. The members of that journey were Robert Gibson, Charles Precourt, Ellen Baker, Gregory Harbaugh, Bonnie Dunbar, Anatoly Solovyov, and Nikolay Budarin. (

Discovery and her crew launched the first Tracking and Data Recovery Satellite (TDRS) in July 1995. These satellites provide critical relay services to the Hubble Telescope, the International Space Station and many other missions. The crewmembers aboard were Terence Hendricks, Kevin Kregel, Donald Thomas, Nancy Currie, and Mary Weber. ( and

Soyuz TM-22 brough the first German spacewalker to Mir. (Thomas Reiter) That mission lasted from September 1995 through February 1996. The other crew on this lengthy mission were Yury Gidzenko and Sergey Avdeyev. (

The crew on Endeavor in March of 1995 was able to operate the Wake Shield Facility Satellite. The Wake Shield Facility Satellite is a free-standing stainless-steel disk that is 12 feet in diameter. Endeavor deployed it in an orbital attitude in the thermosphere where it creates a vacuum that is targeted at studying epitaxial film growth. The astronauts instrumental in this venture were David Walker, Kenneth Cockrell, James Voss, James Newman, and Michael Gernhardt. ( and

The Wake Shield Facility satellite

In October of 1995 Columbia took the Microgravity Laboratory -2 to Skylab so they could conduct experiments on fluid physics and the effects of microgravity on the formation of semi-conductor crystals and combustion. The astronauts aboard were Kenneth Bowersox, Kent Rominger, Catherine Coleman, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Kathryn Thornton, Fred Leslie, and Albert Sacco. ( and

Atlantis took off to attach a new docking station to Mir in mid-November 1995 with Kenneth Cameron, James Halsell, Chris Hadfield, Jerry Ross, and William McArthur aboard. (

Endeavor was the first to launch in January 1996. The crew practiced space walks for the International Space Station with astronauts Brian Duffy, Brent Jett, Leroy Chiao, Winston Scott, Wakata Koichi, and Daniel Barry. (

The Russian spacecraft Soyuz MT-23 went Mir in February of 1996 and left in September of that same year. They attached Priroda to the Mir module. The cosmonauts on that mission were Yuri Onufriyenko and Yury Usachyov. (

Columbia went into orbit in late February 1996 to deploy a tethered satellite system with the able assistance of astronauts Andrew Allen, Scott Horowitz, Jeffrey Hoffman, Maurizio Cheli, Claude Nicollier, Franklin Chang-Diaz, and Umberto Guidoni. (

Atlantis took some supplies to Mir on a journey that began the end of March 1996 and ended September 1996. Astronauts Kevin Chilton, Richard Seafoss, Ronald Sega, Michael Clifford, Linda Goodwin, and Shannon Lucid were aboard. (

Endeavor deployed an inflatable experimental antenna in mid to late May 1996 with John Casper, Curtis Brown, Andrew Thomas, Daniel Bursch, Mario Runco, and Marc Garneau as crew. (

The inflatable experimental antenna

Mid-June through early July 1996 Columbia and her crew went into orbit to conduct some experiments aboard the Microgravity Spacelab. They studied the biological effects of space travel. The members of that mission were Terence Hendricks, Kevin Kregel, Richard Linnehan, Susan Helms, Charles Brady, Jean-Jacques Favier, and Robert Thirsk. (

The Russian spacecraft Soyuz TM-24 took their first French woman (Claudie Andre-Deshays) into space from mid-August 1996 thru early September 1996. Her crew on this trip was Valery Korzun and Aleksandr Kaleri. (

The crew of Atlantis went aloft to conduct some experiments aboard the Skylab Double Module that connects with Mir. The astronauts on that journey were William Readdy, Terence Wilcutt, Jerome Apt, Thomas Akers, Carl Walz, and John Blaha. They left mid-September 1996 and returned late January 1997. (

The ORFEUS-SPAS II astrophysics satellite was deployed along with the Wake Shield Satellite Facility. Both was managed by the crew of Columbia. They took off mid-November and came back the first week in December of 1996. ORFEUS SPA II was designed to investigate celestial sources in far away and extreme ultraviolet spectral ranges so we might learn more about the evolution of stars, the composition of galaxies, and the means behind interstellar mediums. ORFEUS SPA II was a joint operation with the German Space Agency. It used a reusable Astro-Shuttle Pallet Satellite to gather its data. The astronauts aboard Columbia on this mission were Kenneth Cockrell, Kent Rominger, Tamara Jernigan, Thomas Jones, and Story Musgrave. ( and


Atlantis came back from MIR in January of 1997. They brought back plants since they had completed on full life cycle. The astronauts on that mission were Michael Baker, Brent Jett, Peter Wisoff, John Grunsfeld, Marsha Ivins, and Jerry Linenger. (

The Hubble Space Telescope required some maintenance. Discovery and her crew went up to perform that maintenance for a couple of weeks in February 1997. Kenneth Bowersox, Scott Horowitz, Joseph Tanner, Steven Hawley, Gregory Harbaugh, Mark Lee, and Steven Smith were aboard. (

Columbia escorted the Microgravity Science Laboratory 1 into space in April 1997, but there was a faulty fuel cell that curtailed their mission. The crew on that trip were James Halsell, Susan Still, Janice Voss, Michael Gernhardt, Donlad Thomas, Roger Crouch, and Gregory Linteris. (

Atlantis docked at MIR mid-May 1997 with astronauts Charles Precourt, Ellen Collins, Jean-Francois Clervoy, Carlos Noriega, Edward Lu, Yelena Kondakova, and Michael Foale to bring the Biorack Research Facility aboard so they could conduct experiments in microgravity. (


James Halsell, Susan Still, Janice Voss, Michael Gernhardt, Donald Thomas, Roger Crouch, and Gregory Linteris went into space aboard Columbia in July 1997. (

Soyuz TM-26 went to MIR to fix the oxygen generation system from August 1997 through mid-February 1998. Cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov completed those repairs.(

Telescopes and spectrometers were set out into space from Discovery in August of 1997 with the assistance of astronauts Curtis Brown, Kent Rominger, N. Jan Davis, Robert Curbeam, Stephen Robinson, and Bjarni Tryggvason so they could observe the Earth’s atmosphere. (

Atlantis went to Mir with a Spacehab module and replacement computer in the fall of 1997 through January 1998. The astronauts onboard were James Weatherbee, Michael Bloomfield, Vladimir Titov, Scott Parazynski, Jean-Loup Chretien, Wendy Lawrence, and David Wolf. (

The fourth U.S. Microgravity Payload (USMP-4), Spartan 201, and some solar instruments that needed to be launched into space went out with Columbia for about two weeks in the late portion of 1997. The crew on this mission was Kevin Kregel, Steven Lindsey, Kalpana Chawla, Winston Scott, Doi Takao, and Leonid Kadenyuk. Kadenyuk was the first Ukrainian astronaut into space. (

January through June of 1998 Endeavor docked at MIR to conduct protein crystal growth experiments. Terrence Wilcutt, Joe Edwards, James Reilly, Michael Anderson, Bonnie Dunbar, Salizhan Sharipov, and Andrew Thomas were the crew on that flight. (

The Spektr solar panels aboard MIR were not operational. Soyuz TM-27 with cosmonauts Talgat Musabayev, Nikolay Budarin, and Leopold Eyharts went out January 1998 and came back in August that same year. (

Spektr solar panels on MIR

Neurolab was the final Spacelab mission. Columbia took that launch on April 17, 1998 and came back May 3rd. Richard Searfoss, Scott Altmas, Richard Linnehan, Kathryn Hire, Daffyd Williams, Jay Buckley, and James Pawelczyk were aboard. (


The last mission to MIR was in June 1998. Charles Precourt, Dominic Gorie, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Wendy Lawerence, Janet Kavandi, and Valery Ryumin were the astronauts on that flight. (

John Glenn, one of our most celebrated early astronauts would become the oldest astronaut to go into space aboard Discovery in the late fall of 1998. Discovery also took the Spacehab aloft. The crew members on that trip were Curt Brown, Steven Lindsey, Scott Parazynski, Pedro Duque, Steven Robinson, Mukai Chiaki and John Glenn. (

The International Space Station (ISS) replaced Skylab and MIR. Endeavor brought two compartments to ISS; one from Russia and the other from the USA to ISS with the able assistance of astronauts Robert Cabana, Frederick Sturkow, Jerry Ross, Nancy Currie, James Newman, and Sergey Krikalyov. (

Discovery took some supplies to the ISS in late May of 1999. Kent Rominger, Rick Husband, Tamara Jernigan, Ellen Ochoa, Daniel Barry, Julie Payete, and Valery Tokarev were the crew on this mission. (

Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched into orbit by Columbia in June 1999. Those on this flight were Ellen Collins, Jeffrey Ashby, Catherine Coleman, Steven Hawley, and Michel Tognini. (

The Chandra X-ray Observatory

The final flight of this decade was aboard Discovery. Her crew were tasked with servicing the Hubble Space Telescope. Those members were Curtis Brown, Scott Kelly, Steven Smith, Jean-Francois Clervoy, John Grunsfeld, Michael Foale, and Claude Nicollier. (

It’s been my please to help you see how many trips we and Russia have made into space and what valuable things we can learn by continuing this progression. The next article with highlight the 2000’s. Stay tuned!






















To create freelance content that educates, inspires, delights, and informs!


To create freelance strategies for organizations and leaders that enhance visibility, builds engagement, and drives credibility and income.

Pin It on Pinterest