Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Celebrating My Birthday With NASA

Today is my birthday. And while numerous space missions were taking place on my birthday (for example, the current ISS Expedition 28), there hasn't been a lot on this day.

NASA Astronaut David C. Burbank was born today in 1961. He is the second astronaut from the United States Coast Guard. He flew on Atlantis twice, in September 2000, on STS-106, and in September 2006, on STS-115, and is scheduled to launch for six months in September 2011, for ISS Expedition 29/30.

On this day in 1972, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor was born. He would become the first Malaysian to go into space, launching on October 10, 2007 and returning October 21. He launched as part of the Soyuz TMA-11 crew (who were comprising ISS Expedition 16) and returned as part of the Soyuz TMA-10 crew (ISS Expedition 15). He is an orthopedic surgeon and spent 18 months training in Russia. While he is officially designated a 'spaceflight participant' by English-language materials put out by NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency, he did perform some medical experiments on liver cancer and leukemia cells and microbes; a Russian ambassador called him a 'fully-fledged cosmonaut', while now-retired NASA astronaut Robert Gibson said he was fully qualified as an astronaut and should be called one. The distinction is because Malaysia arranged his flight as a trade for buying 18 Russian fighter jets under the Angkasawan

On this day in 2005, NASA grounded the shuttle program for the third time, after the Challenger and Columbia disasters, and this was because on the launch of STS-114 the day before, debris from the external tank separated from it and hit the shuttle Discovery--the same thing that happened to Columbia. This was the first 'Return to Flight' shuttle mission after the loss of Columbia, and while the mission was a success and returned safely, this grounding lasted until July 4, 2006. (Ironically, Discovery had also been the first shuttle to fly the 'Return to Flight' mission after the Challenger accident.)


  1. Hi Gordon,

    Happy Birthday! I enjoyed reading your recap of space missions on this date, and like you, wish there was another shuttle mission or voyage to the stars occurring today.

    All my best,

  2. Happy belated birthday, Gordon.