Officially named “Space Transportation System” (STS), we all know it as the Space Shuttle – an iconic, incredibly photogenic spacecraft. It started operations 1981 (1981!) and retired recently – in 2011.
It is the only reusable space vehicle that has ever made multiple flights into orbit (though it was criticised for being a very expensive way to get to space and back).
And, of course, it had two fatal accidents. Challenger (STS-51-L) exploded 73 seconds after launch on January 28, 1986; Columbia (STS-107) disintegrated on its return trip on February 1, 2003. Space travel is dangerous.
On to the pictures. There are so many to choose from. As I’ve already said – the Space Shuttle is an incredibly photogenic spacecraft. And together with the surroundings it operated in, there are so many stunning images out there.
So, here are a few that I’ve been gradually collecting for the Space Scenery series.
As always, click the image to see a much higher resolution image.
All images: NASA/Troy Cryder/Bill Ingalls.
I highly recommend a couple of videos.
First, here is the “Space Shuttle: The complete missions” – a Nature Video. It was put together by Adam Rutherford – all 135 missions spliced together into a fantastic 8 minute movie.
NASA’s 30-year Space Transportation System (STS) program came to an end on 21st July 2011. The Space Shuttle fleet delivered the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Space Station, and dozens of satellites, space probes, crew and supplies. Two Shuttles were lost: Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. The touchdown of Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center marked the end of an era, after 135 missions. This video shows all of them in chronological order.
It seems to be available on You Tube at the moment…though I guess it might get taken down by the BBC.
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