Here's a look at NASA's Space Shuttle Program which ended in 2011 after 135 missions.
The space shuttle is the "world's first reusable spacecraft," launching like a rocket, orbiting like a spacecraft, and landing like a plane.
Space shuttles could carry satellites, space probes, and other cargo into orbit around Earth on both commercial and non-commercial missions.
The space shuttle system was made up of three components:
- Two solid rocket boosters. They provided 80% of the launch thrust.
- The external tank, which provided fuel to the space shuttle main engines during launch.
- The orbiter. It acted as the crew's home during the flight.
All of the components were reused except for the external fuel tank. It burned up in the atmosphere after launch.
Crews ranged in size from five to seven people. Over 600 crewmembers flew on shuttle missions.
The space shuttle program sent over 3 million pounds of cargo into space.
The longest any shuttle stayed in orbit was 17.5 days, in November 1996.
The space shuttle was 184 feet long. The orbiter was 122 feet long.
The liftoff weight of the space shuttle was 4.5 million pounds.
There were five orbiters in the shuttle program's history: Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery and Endeavour.
The space shuttles Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour were each designed to fly 100 missions, though altogether they flew much fewer than that.
January 5, 1972 - President Richard Nixon announces the intent to develop the first space shuttle for travel into space.
1970s - The orbiter Enterprise is used for tests but never flies in space.
March 24, 1979 - The orbiter Columbia is delivered to the Kennedy Space Center.
April 12, 1981 - The first space shuttle (STS-1) is launched. The Columbia is the first space shuttle to orbit the earth.
July 5, 1982 - The orbiter Challenger is delivered to the Kennedy Space Center.
November 9, 1983 - Discovery is delivered to the Kennedy Space Center.
April 13, 1985 - Atlantis is delivered to the Kennedy Space Center.
January 28, 1986 - Challenger explodes minutes after launch due to faulty O-rings in the shuttle's rocket booster. Flights do not resume for another two years.
February 1, 2003 - The Space Shuttle Columbia explodes over Texas after a large piece of foam rips off during Columbia's launch and gouges a hole in the left wing in the shuttle. Atmospheric gases burn the wing during re-entry, and the orbiter is destroyed.
July 26, 2005 - The Discovery is launched. On July 27, NASA grounds its space shuttles until engineers solve the recurring problem of falling debris, pieces of which tore away from the shuttle Discovery shortly after the blastoff.
August 9, 2005 - Discovery lands safely at Edwards AFB in California.
July 3, 2006 - Workers find a crack in the foam insulation covering a bracket that connects the liquid oxygen feed line to shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank. The crack is four to five inches long, and one eighth of an inch to a quarter-inch wide.
July 4, 2006 - The Space Shuttle Discovery is successfully launched.
July 17, 2006 - Discovery lands at 9:15 am at Kennedy Space Center.
September 9, 2006 - Atlantis launches successfully. The six astronauts conduct three spacewalks and deliver and install a 35,000-pound addition with giant solar arrays to power the International Space Station.
December 9, 2006 - Space shuttle Discovery lifts off, beginning a 12-day mission with the first night launch in four years. The crew of seven continues construction on the International Space Station by rewiring the orbiting laboratory and adding a two-ton segment to its integrated truss structure.
February 27, 2007 - The external fuel tank attached to Space Shuttle Atlantis is damaged during a hailstorm.
June 8, 2007 - Space Shuttle Atlantis launches, carrying a crew of seven astronauts headed for the International Space Station. The crew plans to install a new segment and solar panel on the space station and retrieve astronaut Sunita Williams, who has been at the space station since December.
June 23, 2007 - Atlantis lands safely at Edwards AFB in California, the first time a shuttle has landed at Edwards since 2005. Aboard Atlantis is Sunita Williams, returning from the International Space Station where she set an endurance record for the longest single spaceflight for a woman (195 days) and the record for most time spent spacewalking by a woman.
August 8, 2007 - The Space Shuttle Endeavour launches successfully at 6:36 pm from Kennedy Space Center, carrying teacher-turned-astronaut Barbara Morgan and six crewmates.
October 23, 2007 - Space Shuttle Discover launches at 11:38 am. Aboard Discovery is Harmony, an Italian-built live-in compartment that will be attached to the International Space Station. Discovery is under the command of Pamela Melroy, the second woman to lead a space shuttle mission.
November 7, 2007 - Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center at 1:01 pm, with Commander Pamela Melroy becoming the second woman to land a space shuttle. Returning with the shuttle is Clayton Anderson, who had been on board the International Space Station since June.
February 7, 2008 - Space Shuttle Atlantis launches at 2:45 pm, carrying the International Space Station's newest science lab, named Columbia. Atlantis also drops off French Air Force General Leopold Eyharts, who will replace NASA astronaut Daniel Tani.
March 11, 2008 - Space Shuttle Endeavour launches at 2:28 am from Kennedy Space Center, the first night launch for a shuttle since 2006 and only the second night launch since Columbia disintegrated during re-entry. The shuttle is headed to the ISS, where it will deliver a Canadian-built robot named Dextre and the first part of the Japanese-built Kibo lab. Also on board is astronaut Garrett Reisman, who is replacing Leopold Eyharts.
May 31, 2008 - Space Shuttle Discovery launches at 5:02 pm from Kennedy Space Center with the purpose of transporting components for the Japanese Experiment Module lab Kibo, as well as a Japanese Remote Manipulator System to be attached to the ISS. Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman will leave with the Discovery crew and replaced by Greg Chamtoff.
November 14, 2008 - Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-126) launches at 7:55 am EST. The crew of seven will renovate a kitchen and bathroom on the International Space Station and are delivering a new refrigerator.
March 15, 2009 - Space Shuttle Discovery launches at 7:43 pm EDT. Discovery is headed to the ISS to deliver the final set of "solar array wings." With the completed array, the station is expected to be able to provide enough electricity when the crew size is doubled to six in May.
February 24, 2011 - Space Shuttle Discovery launches from Kennedy Space Center at 4:53 p.m. EDT. This is Discovery's final mission.
March 9, 2011 - Space Shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center at 11:57 a.m. EDT. Discovery has spent 365 days in space during the course of its 39 missions, the first of which launched in August 1984. It has orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles.
April 12, 2011 - NASA announces the locations that will host the retired space shuttles:
- Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida
- Endeavour will be displayed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles
- Discovery will be displayed at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia
- Enterprise will be displayed at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York
April 29, 2011 - Space Shuttle Endeavour's final launch, originally scheduled for 3:47 p.m. EDT, is delayed due to an issue with the shuttle's heating system. President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords are in attendance.
May 16, 2011 - Space Shuttle Endeavour launches from Kennedy Space Center at 8:56 am EDT on its last mission.
June 1, 2011 - Space Shuttle Endeavour returns to the Kennedy Space Center after its final mission. It lands at 2:34 a.m. ET.
July 8, 2011 - Space Shuttle Atlantis launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:30 a.m. ET. This is the space shuttle program's final mission.
July 21, 2011 - Space Shuttle Atlantis lands at Kennedy Space Center at 5:57 a.m. ET, marking the end of the space shuttle program.
April 19, 2012 - Space Shuttle Discovery arrives at its new home, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
June 6, 2012 - The Space Shuttle Enterprise lands at its new home at New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
August 8, 2012 - California Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph announces that after 25 missions in space, the shuttle Endeavour will make its way to its new home at the California Science Center in September 2012.
September 19, 2012 - Space Shuttle Endeavour, atop a Boeing 747, leaves Cape Canaveral, Florida on a farewell tour across the southern United States. Two days later it lands at Los Angeles International Airport.
October 12-14, 2012 - The Endeavour is transported approximately 12 miles, at a top speed of 2 mph, from the Los Angeles International Airport, through the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles to the California Science Center. Trees, traffic signs, utility poles and other structures in the path of Endeavour's wings delay the trip by more than 12 hours.
June 29, 2013 - The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit opens at the Kennedy Space Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida.