The History of the Space Shuttle

From its first launch 30 years ago to its final mission scheduled for next Friday, NASA's Space Shuttle program has seen moments of dizzying inspiration and of crushing disappointment. When next week's launch is complete, the program will have sent up 135 missions, ferrying more than 350 humans and thousands of tons of material and equipment into low Earth orbit. The missions have been risky, the engineering complex, the hazards extreme. Indeed, over the years 14 shuttle astronauts lost their lives. As we near the end of the program, let's look back at the past few decades of shuttle history.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Stephanie Keith / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 5/16-5/22

    This week we have photos of an 80-foot-high tire in Michigan, dozens of Siberian students smashed into a car, two volcanic eruptions, yet another nail house in China, synchronized swimmers in a pond at the Chelsea Flower Show, a view from the top of the 104-story One World Trade Center, cows on the beach along the Mediterranean, a solar halo above Mexico, and much more.

  • Chensiyuan / Wikimedia Commons

    The Spectacular Seda Monastery

    High in a treeless valley in China's remote Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture lies the largest Tibetan Buddhist school in the world.

  • Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

    An Oil Spill Fouls the California Coastline

    A pipeline burst yesterday, spilling an estimated 21,000 gallons (79,500 liters) of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara.

  • USGS / Robert Krimmel

    The Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 35 Years Ago

    On May 18, 1980, 35 years ago today, an earthquake struck below the north face of Mount St. Helens in Washington state, triggering the largest landslide in recorded history, and a major volcanic eruption that scattered ash across a dozen states.

Join the Discussion