Unknown Speaker: "We have main-engine start, three, two, one … we have SRB ignition, and we have liftoff!"
Robert Navias: It was a bittersweet year for NASA: ten Shuttle flights were scheduled, only five were launched; dazzling triumphs tempered by frustrating failures.
In February, two communications satellites were deployed from Challenger, but were left stranded in lost orbits by booster-rocket malfunctions. On that same flight, however, Bruce McCandless became the first human to fly free in space, successfully testing the new jet-powered backpack that others would use in April to retrieve and repair a broken sun-observation satellite called Solar Max.
On June 26th, the Space Agency was ready to launch its third and newest shuttle, Discovery …
Unknown Speaker: " … five, we have main-engine start. We have a cutoff."
Unknown Speaker: "NTD, we have an orange spark."
Unknown Speaker: "We have a -- an abort by the onboard computers of the Orbiter Discovery."
Rob Navias: An unexpected main-engine failure stunned officials and delayed Discovery's maiden flight for two months.
Three Soviets spent a record eight months in orbit, a woman walked in space for the first time and Shuttles finally landed in Florida; but the most spectacular moment of the year in space took place in mid-November …
Unknown Speaker: "I can get there."
Unknown Speaker: "Block (inaudible), we got it."
Unknown Speaker: "Cycle general time?"
Unknown Speaker: "It's right on; not even a good knock."
Unknown Speaker: "So?"
Unknown Speaker: "Yes. It's just like you said."
Unknown Speaker: "Ya done good, Dr. J."
Unknown Speaker: "It's like you said, partner."
Rob Navias: The rescue of the two lost satellites by Joe Allen and Dale Gardner ended NASA's rollercoaster year on its highest note as officials looked forward to a busy 1985.
This is Rob Navias.