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

  • Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP / Getty

    Wildfires Force Evacuations Along the French Riviera

    Authorities have evacuated more than 10,000 people from parts of southern France, ahead of several raging wildfires.

  • Pete Oxford / bioGraphic

    Whale Sharks as Good Luck Charms

    Fishermen in Cenderawasih Bay in West Papua, Indonesia, have long believed that whale sharks bring good luck.

  • Franck Fife / AFP / Getty

    Scenes From the 2017 Silk Way Rally

    For the past two weeks, rally racers from 35 countries drove 5,965 miles (9,600 kilometers) from Moscow, Russia, to Xi'an, China.

  • Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 7/15–7/21

    Highland games in Scotland, a diving jaguar in France, wildfires in California and western Canada, a wax Donald Trump, and much more.

Join the Discussion