Posted by: Kash Farooq | April 21, 2013

Space Scenery: The Space Shuttle Programme

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.

Ground

Space Shuttle Atlantis waiting for launch day.

Space Shuttle Atlantis waiting for launch day.

With a rainbow as a backdrop, Space Shuttle Atlantis in the foreground sits on Launch Pad A; Endeavour at Launch Pad B (NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, image credit NASA/Troy Cryder).

With a rainbow as a backdrop, Space Shuttle Atlantis in the foreground sits on Launch Pad A; Endeavour at Launch Pad B (NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA's space shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis switched locations at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and in the process came "nose-to-nose" for the last time in front of Orbiter Processing Facility 3. (Image credit: NASA).

NASA’s space shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis switched locations at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and in the process came “nose-to-nose” for the last time in front of Orbiter Processing Facility 3.

Launch

Space Shuttle Columbia Launch.

Space Shuttle Columbia Launch.

STS-123 - night launch.

STS-123 – night launch.

STS-130 - night launch.

STS-130 – night launch.

STS-135: the final launch of the Space Shuttle Programme. This is Atlantis as it launches from Pad 39A on Friday, July 8, 2011, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.(Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls).

STS-135: the final launch of the Space Shuttle Programme. This is Atlantis as it launches from Pad 39A on Friday, July 8, 2011, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

Lt. Col. Gabriel Green and Capt. Zachary Bartoe patrol the airspace in an F-15E Strike Eagle as the Space Shuttle Atlantis launches May 14, 2010, at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. (Capt. John Peltier, USAF).

Lt. Col. Gabriel Green and Capt. Zachary Bartoe patrol the airspace in an F-15E Strike Eagle as the Space Shuttle Atlantis launches May 14, 2010, at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. (Capt. John Peltier, USAF).

Space

Space Shuttle Discovery over Switzerland.

Space Shuttle Discovery over Switzerland.

Space Shuttle Discovery approaching Mir.

Space Shuttle Discovery approaching Mir.

Space Shuttle Discovery over our blue planet.

Space Shuttle Discovery over our blue planet.

Space Shuttle Endeavour attached to the International Space Station on May 23, 2011 (taken from Soyuz TMA-20).

Space Shuttle Endeavour attached to the International Space Station on May 23, 2011 (taken from Soyuz TMA-20).

Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with the segmented Mir.

Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with the segmented Mir.

Landing

Space Shuttle Endeavour Landing.

Space Shuttle Endeavour Landing.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Vapor trails as it approaches Runway 15 on the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Vapour trails as it approaches Runway 15 on the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

Space Shuttle Atlantis landing at KSC (STS-122).

Space Shuttle Atlantis landing at KSC (STS-122).

Retirement

Thousands of spectators gathered in front of the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., as the space shuttle Endeavour stopped temporarily for a celebration as it headed overland to its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (NASA / Bill Ingalls).

Thousands of spectators gathered in front of the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., as the space shuttle Endeavour stopped temporarily for a celebration as it headed overland to its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. .

The Space Shuttle Enterprise is towed by barge up the Hudson River in New York June 6, 2012 Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls).

The Space Shuttle Enterprise is towed by barge up the Hudson River in New York June 6, 2012.

All images: NASA/Troy Cryder/Bill Ingalls.

Related content

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.

The second is a BBC special: Space Shuttle: The Final Mission. It’s an excellent documentary that was presented by Kevin Fong.

It seems to be available on You Tube at the moment…though I guess it might get taken down by the BBC.

Related Posts

Space Scenery series.


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