MOMENTS IN SPACE HISTORY
Ann Bolton, who retired from NASA after a 30-year career, volunteers at the Cape
Canaveral Lighthouse to preserve its legacy.
Spacelab-2, housed in
the cargo bay of the
orbiter so its scientific
exposed directly into
space, was launched
aboard the shuttle
Challenger July 29, 1985.
HOLIDAY 2022: 67
Ann Bolton began her demanding career as the spaceport’s first female
co-op student in 1962.
at the unveiling ceremony of the flight hardware at the
Kennedy Space Center when he said, “The knowledge
Spacelab will bring back from its many missions will
belong to all mankind.”
Spacelab flew 36 missions and completed about 800
experiments in materials science, life science, physics and
astrophysics on NASA’s space shuttles. The European Space
Agency built the lab, the Marshall Space Flight Center
managed it and the space center launched Spacelab-1 on
the STS-9 mission of space shuttle Columbia on the late
November 1983 flight.
At a cost of $1 billion, the entire lab comprised several
units. The two main modules were aluminum, pressurized
cylinders each the size of a medium trailer where scientists
and astronauts worked in regular clothing. Each was
housed on separate missions in the space shuttle’s payload
bay. The interior of the main module was designed with
racks for many experiments in a small space. Spacelab
also had U-shaped pallets attached behind the lab module
and were exposed to space on the shuttle’s exterior with
equipment such as telescopes and antennae.
On its first, 10-day mission, the crew completed more than
70 experiments from 14 nations while the shuttle orbited
the Earth 166 times, according to NASA. The massive
number of experiments required nonstop work for crews
both in space and on the ground.
Bolton was on the NASA payload team that tested “the
experiment instrument’s interfaces with racks, with the
Spacelab systems and computer, with the shuttle systems
and computer, and finally, the downlink,” she explains.
“We also tested portions of the mission sequences that
were representative of the maximum power consumption,
astronaut participation and computer interactions.”
She retired in 1992 after a 30-year career that started as
the spaceport’s first female co-op student. She is active in