A little bit after midnight (12:31 am EDT to be exact) on July 23, 1999, the Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Onboard was what was then the largest payload ever carried by a Shuttle: the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Deployment of Chandra from Columbia's payload bay happened just over seven hours later at 7:47 am – not much rest for the astronauts! About an hour later, the first of two solid rocket boosters was successfully fired and Chandra began its journey to the highly elliptical orbit it has maintained ever since.
We would like to use this anniversary to thank the fantastic crew of STS-93 that launched and deployed Chandra a baker's dozen years ago today. Without their excellent work, we would not have been able to enjoy the wonders of the high-energy Universe. Here's hoping for another lucky 13 years to come.