You might as Well be Walking in Space !980s

Jan 10, 20231980, communication, Communism, Florida, government, history, News, relationships, Russia, Socialism, Soviet, Space, Space Exploration, Space Race, USA, World

Thus far I have highlighted our space achievements from inception thru the 1970s. This article with take off where those left off and showcase manned space flight in the 1980s. During this decade there were a lot of firsts for both the USA and Russia.

Russia took the lead in 1980 by sending up Soyuz 35/Salyut 6/Soyuz 37 in April to complete 184 days and 20 hours with cosmonauts Leonid Popov and Valery Ryumin. Their time in space ended in October. (

Overlapping the time in space with Soyuz 35/Salyut6/Soyuz 37 was Soyuz 36/Salyut 6/Soyuz 35 with cosmonauts Valery Kubasov and Bertalan Farkas. Farkas was the first Hungarian person to go into space. Their trip lasted from May 26th until June 3rd of 1980. (

Yuri Malyshev and Vladimir Aksyonov conducted a test flight of the Soyuz T-2/Salyut 6 for a few short days in June of 1980.

In July Viktor Gorbatko and Pham Tuan spent a week in orbit. Tuan was the first Vietnamese cosmonaut. (

Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez and Yury Romaneno went up in September of 1980 aboard the Soyuz 38/Salyut 6 making Tamayo-Mendez the first Cuban cosmonaut in space. (

December of 1980 was maintenance month for Russia. Leonid Kizim, Oleg Makarov, and Gennady Strekalov set out to perform some needed maintenance of the Salyut 6 aboard the Soyuz T-3. (

Spring of 1981 from March thru May Vladimir Kovalyonok and Viktor Savinkyh conducted some bio-medical experiments in space. (

Overlapping the  Kovalyonok/Savinkyh orbit were two other flights. The first was a week-long in March with cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Jugderdemidiin Gurragcha making Gurragcha the first Mongolian to go to space. (

If it looks like Russia dominated the early part of this decade in space you would be correct. It was about time for the USA to make their imprint in space.

Four days in April of 1981 John Young and Robert Crippen orbited the earth aboard STS-1 named Columbia. This was the first flight for our Space Shuttle. (

By May, the Soviets were launching Soyuz 40/Salyut 6 with cosmonauts Leonid Popov again and Dumitru Prunariu making history for Romania. Prunariu was the first Romanian to go into space. (

STS-2 Columbia was relaunched in November of 1981 proving that we can reuse our Space Shuttle. Joseph Engle and Richard Truly were aboard. (

Columbia was again launched (STS 3) in March of 1982 to conduct operate the manipulator arm and conduct biological experiments with astronaut’s Jack Lousma and Gordon Fullerton.

Meanwhile, Russia was continuing to set records for duration in space. Anatoly Berezovo and Valentin Lebedev spent 211 days and 9 hours aloft aboard Soyuz T-5/Salyut 7/Soyuz T-7. May thru early December. (

Overlapping part of the longest Soviet mission in space was a shorter launch with Vladimir Dzhanibekov again andJean-Loup Chretien, Aleksandr Ivanchenkov aboard Soyuz T-6/Salyut 7 in late June and early July. Chretien celebrated being the first French person in space. (

Columbia launched for the fourth time in late June thru early July 1982 with Thomas Mattingly and Henry Hartsfield aboard. (

The Soviet Union sent its first woman into space in August of 1982. Aboard the Soyuz T-7/Salyut 7/Soyuz T-5 was Leonid Popov again, Aleksandr Serebov, and Svetlana Savitskaya. (

Mid-November the United States sent Columbia out again (STS-5) with Vance Brand, Robert Overmeyer, Joseph Allen, and William Lenior marking the first space flight to have four astronauts aboard. They deployed two satellites for communication. (

In April of 1983 Challenger was launched. This mission was testing the new spacesuits and astronauts Paul Weitz, Karol Bobko, Story Musgrave, and Donald Peterson were aboard. (

Shortly after Challenger was launched Russia sent up Soyuz T-8. They were unable to dock with Salyut 7. Cosmonauts on that launch were: Vladmir Titov, Grennady Strekalov, and Aleksandr Serebrov. (

Challenger went up again In June of 1983 with the first five-person crew. This time Challenger took the first woman into space. The astronauts were: Robert Crippen, Frederick Hauck, John Fabian, Sally Ride, and Norman Thagard. (

On the heels of the Challenger launch the Soviets sent up Vladimir Lyakhov and Aleksandr Pavlovich Aleksandrov aboard the Soyuz T-9 to attach an experimental solar battery to the Salyut 7. (

Late that summer Challenger went into space bringing the first black man into orbit.  The astronauts aboard were Richard Truly, Daniel Brandenstein, Dale Gardner, and William Thornton. (

Late November into December Columbia went to Spacelab 1 with the first European Space Agency astronaut aboard. The astronauts on that mission were John Young, Brewster Shaw, Owen Garriott, Robert Parker, Byron Lichtenberg, and Ulf Merbold. (

The first flight in 1984 was aboard Challenger and those astronauts would perform the first untethered spacewalk. The astronauts on that launch were Vance Brand, Robert Gibson, Bruce McCandless, Ronald McNair, and Robert Stewart. (

Where we were setting new records the Soviets were too. In February of 1984 they sent Soyuz T-10 into orbit with cosmonauts Leonid Kizim, Vladmir Solovyov, and Oleg Atkov. They were in space for an amazing 236 days and 23 hours! (

Shortly thereafter the Russians sent Yury Malyshev, Grennady Strekalov, and Rakesh Sharma aloft. This was a weeklong journey that put the first Indian man into space. (

Challenger went up around the same general time frame as the last Soviet rocket. They were tasked with repairing a satellite in orbit. That was another first! The astronauts conducting that repair were Robert Crippen, Francis Scobee, Terry Hart, George Nelson, and James van Hoften. (

Mid-summer the Russians sent their first woman into space aboard the Soyuz T-12. The cosmonauts on that launch were Vladmir Dzhanibekov, Svetlana Savitskaya, and Igor Volk. (

Discovery’s maiden flight was in late summer early fall of 1984. Their mission was to launch three satellites into orbit. The astronauts aboard were Henry Hartsfield, Michael Coats, Steven Hawley, Mike Mullane, Judith Resnick, and Charles Walker. (

Challenger was launched in October taking the first Canadian into space and allowing the first woman to spacewalk. The astronauts on this flight were Robert Crippen, Jon McBride, Kathryn Sullivan, Sally Ride, David Leetsma, Marc Garneau, and Paul Scully-Power. (

Two satellites were retrieved, repaired, and relaunched in November of 1984 by Discovery with the assistance of astronauts Frederick Hauck, David Walker, Dale Gardner, Joseph Allen, and Anna Fischer. (

The first launch of 1985 was aboard Discovery. This was their first military mission and the astronauts aboard were Thomas Mattingly, Loren Shriver, Ellison Onizuka, James Buchli, and Gary Payton. They were in orbit for a scant three days in January. (

Discovery took the first politician into space in April of that same year. The crew consisted of Karol Bobko, Donald Williams, Stanley Griggs, Jeffrey Hoffman, Rhea Seddon, Jake Garn, and Charles Walker. (

In later April into early May Challenger went into space to conduct some science experiments and materials processing. The people on that mission were Robert Overmyer, Fred Gregory, Norman Thagard, William Thornton, Don Lind, Lodewijk van den Berg, and Taylor Wang. (

June nearly thru September the Russians went into space to repair the dead space station aboard the Soyuz T-13 with cosmonauts Vladmir Dzhanibekov and Viktor Savinykh. (

The first Saudi astronaut was taken into space aboard Discovery in June of 1985. The astronauts aboard that flight was Daniel Brandenstein, John Creighton, John Fabian, Steven Nagal, Shannon Lucid, Patrick Baudry, and Aslman as-Saud. (

Challenger set out for Spacelab 2 late July into early August. The crew on that mission was Roy Bridges, Anthony England, Karl Heinze, Story Musgrave, Loren Acton, and John Bartoe. (

Discovery launched in August of 1985 for a week-long mission to repair and redeploy another satellite in orbit with Joseph Engle, Richard Covey, William Fisher, John Lounge, and James van Hoften aboard. (

Soyuz T-14 went into space in September of 1985 and stayed in space until nearly the end of November that same year. Their mission was curtailed because one of their astronauts was found to be mentally unstable. The people aboard were Vladmir Vasyutin, Aleksandr Volkov, and Greorgy Grechko. (

Atlantis helped to launch two more communications satellites into orbit in October. The crew aboard was Karol Bobko, Ronald Grabe, David Hilmers, Robert Stewart, and William Pailes. (

Late October into early November Challenger launched with the first Dutch (Wubbo Ockels) astronaut aboard. The other crew members were Henry Hartsfield, Steven Nagel, James Buchli, Bonnie Dunbar, Reinhard Furrer, Ernst Messerschmid, and Guion Bluford. (

Atlantis launched on a week-long mission late November with the first Mexican astronaut aboard (Neri Vela). The other crew members were Brewster Shaw, Bryan O’Connor, Mary Cleve, Sherwood Spring, Jerry Ross, and Charles Walker. (

Beginning the new year, 1986, Columbia brought the first U.S. Congress person (Bill Nelson) and first Hispanic (Franklin Chang-Diaz) into space. The other members of that launch were Robert Gibson, Charles Bolden, Stephen Hawley, Robert Cenker, and George Nelson. (

Spaceflight was just beginning to become somewhat routine, or so we thought, when Challenger launched January 28th with astronauts Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnick, Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis, and Christina McAuliffe aboard. The space shuttle exploded a mere seventy-three seconds after liftoff with the world watching killing all aboard! This stifled things, at least for the US space program, for quite some time while people around the globe mourned the loss of these brave souls. (

However, the Soviets continued to plod onward into space.

The U.S. did not send another manned mission until December of 1988. Atlantis launched a classified satellite for the U.S. Department of Defense with astronauts Robert Gibson, Guy Gardner, Mike Mulane, Jerry Ross, and William Shepard aboard. (

In March of 1989 Discovery took a data relay and tracking satellite into space with Michael Coats, John Blaha, Robert Spriger, James Buchli, and James Bagian aboard. (

Atlantis launched in May of 1988 for a scant four day trip to set the Magellan space probe into orbit. The crew for that mission was David Walker, Ronald Grabe, Mark Lee, Norman Thagard, and Mary Cleve. (

Nothing more was launched until August of 1989. Astronauts Brewster Shaw, Richard Richards, David Leetsma, James Adamson, and Mark Brown took another classified satellite into orbit. (

Five days in October Atlantis was in space to launch the Galileo space probe with the assistance of Donald Williams, Michael McCulley, Shannon Lucid, Franklin Chang-Diaz, and Ellen Baker. (

The final mission of that decade was aboard Discovery. That was five days in November to launch another classified satellite for the Department of Defense. The crew who spearheaded his mission were Frederick Gregory, John Blaha, Manley Carter, Story Musgrave, and Kathryn Thornton.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. Stay tuned for the next decade, 1990s. May the memories of all of the Challenger Crew be eternal.





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