Space Shuttle program

Space Shuttle program

Overview
NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System (STS), was the United States government's manned
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

 launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
In spaceflight, a launch vehicle or carrier rocket is a rocket used to carry a payload from the Earth's surface into outer space. A launch system includes the launch vehicle, the launch pad and other infrastructure....

 program from 1981 to 2011. The winged Space Shuttle orbiter
Space Shuttle Orbiter
The Space Shuttle orbiter was the orbital spacecraft of the Space Shuttle program operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. The orbiter was a reusable winged "space-plane", a mixture of rockets, spacecraft, and aircraft...

 was launched vertically, usually carrying four to seven astronaut
Astronaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

s (although eight have been carried) and up to 50,000 lb
Pound (mass)
The pound or pound-mass is a unit of mass used in the Imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement...

 (22,700 kg) of payload into low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

 (LEO). When its mission was complete, the shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 could independently move itself out of orbit using its Maneuvering System
Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System
The Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System, or OMS , is a system of rocket engines designed and manufactured by Aerojet for use on the space shuttle orbiter for orbital injection and modifying its orbit. It consists of two "packs" at the back of the Shuttle, the large lumps on either side of the...

 (it oriented itself appropriately and fired its main OMS engines, thus slowing it down) and re-enter
Atmospheric reentry
Atmospheric entry is the movement of human-made or natural objects as they enter the atmosphere of a celestial body from outer space—in the case of Earth from an altitude above the Kármán Line,...

 the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's atmosphere.
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Encyclopedia
NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System (STS), was the United States government's manned
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

 launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
In spaceflight, a launch vehicle or carrier rocket is a rocket used to carry a payload from the Earth's surface into outer space. A launch system includes the launch vehicle, the launch pad and other infrastructure....

 program from 1981 to 2011. The winged Space Shuttle orbiter
Space Shuttle Orbiter
The Space Shuttle orbiter was the orbital spacecraft of the Space Shuttle program operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. The orbiter was a reusable winged "space-plane", a mixture of rockets, spacecraft, and aircraft...

 was launched vertically, usually carrying four to seven astronaut
Astronaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

s (although eight have been carried) and up to 50,000 lb
Pound (mass)
The pound or pound-mass is a unit of mass used in the Imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement...

 (22,700 kg) of payload into low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

 (LEO). When its mission was complete, the shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 could independently move itself out of orbit using its Maneuvering System
Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System
The Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System, or OMS , is a system of rocket engines designed and manufactured by Aerojet for use on the space shuttle orbiter for orbital injection and modifying its orbit. It consists of two "packs" at the back of the Shuttle, the large lumps on either side of the...

 (it oriented itself appropriately and fired its main OMS engines, thus slowing it down) and re-enter
Atmospheric reentry
Atmospheric entry is the movement of human-made or natural objects as they enter the atmosphere of a celestial body from outer space—in the case of Earth from an altitude above the Kármán Line,...

 the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's atmosphere. During descent and landing the orbiter acted as a re-entry vehicle and a glider, using its OMS system and flight surfaces to make adjustments.

The shuttle is the only winged manned spacecraft to have achieved orbit and land, and the only reusable space vehicle that has ever made multiple flights into orbit. Its missions involved carrying large payloads to various orbits (including segments to be added to the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

), provided crew rotation for the International Space Station, and performing service missions. The orbiter also recovered satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s and other payloads (e.g. from the ISS) from orbit and returned them to Earth, though its use in this capacity was rare. Each vehicle was designed with a projected lifespan of 100 launches, or 10 years' operational life.

The program started in the late 1960s and dominated NASA's manned operations since the mid-1970s. According to the Vision for Space Exploration
Vision for Space Exploration
The Vision for Space Exploration is the United States space policy which was announced on January 14, 2004 by President George W. Bush. It is seen as a response to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the state of human spaceflight at NASA, and a way to regain public enthusiasm for space...

, use of the space shuttle was to be focused on completing assembly of the ISS by 2011, after which it was retired. NASA planned to replace the shuttle with the Orion
Orion (spacecraft)
Orion is a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, the space agency of the United States. Orion development began in 2005 as part of the Constellation program, where Orion would fulfill the function of a Crew Exploration Vehicle....

 spacecraft, but budget cuts have placed full development of the Orion craft in doubt. The program commenced on April 12, 1981, with Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew...

and STS-1
STS-1
STS-1 was the first orbital flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program. Space Shuttle Columbia launched on 12 April 1981, and returned to Earth on 14 April, having orbited the Earth 37 times during the 54.5-hour mission. It was the first American manned space flight since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project...

, the first shuttle orbital flight. The space shuttle program finished with its last mission, STS-135
STS-135
STS-135 was the final mission of the American Space Shuttle program. It used the orbiter Atlantis and hardware originally processed for the STS-335 contingency mission, which was not flown. STS-135 launched on 8 July and was originally scheduled to land on 20 July 2011, but the mission was...

 flown by Atlantis
Space Shuttle Atlantis
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is a retired Space Shuttle orbiter in the Space Shuttle fleet belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration , the spaceflight and space exploration agency of the United States...

, in July 2011, retiring the final shuttle in the fleet. The Space Shuttle program formally ended on August 31, 2011.

Conception and development


Before the Apollo XI
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 moon landing in 1969, NASA began early studies of space shuttle designs. In 1969 President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Richard Nixon formed the Space Task Group
Space Task Group
The Space Task Group was a working group of NASA engineers created in 1958, tasked with superintending America's manned spaceflight programs. It was headed by Robert Gilruth andbased at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. After President John F...

, chaired by Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 Spiro T. Agnew. This group evaluated the shuttle studies to date, and recommended a national space strategy including building a space shuttle. The goal, as presented by NASA to Congress, was to provide a much less-expensive means of access to space that would be used by NASA, the Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

, and other commercial and scientific users.

During early shuttle development there was great debate about the optimal shuttle design that best balanced capability, development cost and operating cost. Ultimately the current design was chosen, using a reusable winged orbiter, reusable solid rocket boosters
Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster
The Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters were the pair of large solid rockets used by the United States' NASA Space Shuttle during the first two minutes of powered flight. Together they provided about 83% of liftoff thrust for the Space Shuttle. They were located on either side of the rusty or...

, and an expendable external tank
Space Shuttle external tank
A Space Shuttle External Tank is the component of the Space Shuttle launch vehicle that contains the liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer. During lift-off and ascent it supplies the fuel and oxidizer under pressure to the three Space Shuttle Main Engines in the orbiter...

.

The shuttle program was formally launched on January 5, 1972, when President Nixon announced that NASA would proceed with the development of a reusable space shuttle system. The intent was to launch as many as 50 missions per year, with hopes of driving down per-mission costs.

The final design was less costly to build and less technically ambitious than earlier fully reusable designs. The initial design parameters included a larger external fuel tank, which would have been carried to orbit, where it could be used as a section of a space station, but this idea was killed due to budgetary and political considerations.

The prime contractor for the program was North American Aviation
North American Aviation
North American Aviation was a major US aerospace manufacturer, responsible for a number of historic aircraft, including the T-6 Texan trainer, the P-51 Mustang fighter, the B-25 Mitchell bomber, the F-86 Sabre jet fighter, the X-15 rocket plane, and the XB-70, as well as Apollo Command and Service...

 (later Rockwell International
Rockwell International
Rockwell International was a major American manufacturing conglomerate in the latter half of the 20th century, involved in aircraft, the space industry, both defense-oriented and commercial electronics, automotive and truck components, printing presses, valves and meters, and industrial automation....

, now Boeing
Boeing
The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...

), the same company responsible for building the Apollo Command/Service Module
Apollo Command/Service Module
The Command/Service Module was one of two spacecraft, along with the Lunar Module, used for the United States Apollo program which landed astronauts on the Moon. It was built for NASA by North American Aviation...

. The contractor for the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters was Morton Thiokol
Thiokol
Thiokol is a U.S. corporation concerned initially with rubber and related chemicals, and later with rocket and missile propulsion systems...

 (now part of Alliant Techsystems
Alliant Techsystems
Alliant Techsystems Inc., most commonly known by its ticker symbol, ', is one of the largest aerospace and defense companies in the United States with more than 18,000 employees in 22 states, Puerto Rico and internationally, and 2010 revenues in excess of an estimated...

), for the external tank, Martin Marietta
Martin Marietta
Martin Marietta Corporation was an American company founded in 1961 through the merger of The Martin Company and American-Marietta Corporation. The combined company became a leader in chemicals, aerospace, and electronics. In 1995, it merged with Lockheed Corporation to form Lockheed Martin. The...

 (now Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company with worldwide interests. It was formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area....

), and for the Space shuttle Main Engine
Space Shuttle main engine
The RS-25, otherwise known as the Space Shuttle Main Engine , is a reusable liquid-fuel rocket engine built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne for the Space Shuttle, running on liquid hydrogen and oxygen. Each Space Shuttle was propelled by three SSMEs mated to one powerhead...

s, Rocketdyne
Rocketdyne
Rocketdyne was a Rocket engine design and production company headquartered in Canoga Park, California, United States. The company was related to North American Aviation for most of its history. NAA merged with Rockwell International, which was then bought by Boeing in December, 1996...

 (now Pratt & Whitney
Pratt & Whitney
Pratt & Whitney is a U.S.-based aerospace manufacturer with global service operations. It is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation . Pratt & Whitney's aircraft engines are widely used in both civil aviation and military aviation. Its headquarters are in East Hartford, Connecticut, USA...

 Rocketdyne, part of United Technologies).

The first orbiter was originally planned to be named Constitution, but a massive write-in campaign from fans of the Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

television series convinced the White House to change the name to Enterprise
Space Shuttle Enterprise
The Space Shuttle Enterprise was the first Space Shuttle orbiter. It was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform test flights in the atmosphere. It was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield, and was therefore not capable of spaceflight...

. Amid great fanfare, the Enterprise (designated OV-101) was rolled out on September 17, 1976, and later conducted a successful series of glide-approach and landing tests that were the first real validation of the design.

Program history


The first fully functional orbiter was Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew...

(designated OV-102), built in Palmdale, California
Palmdale, California
Palmdale is a city located in the center of northern Los Angeles County, California, United States.Palmdale was the first community within the Antelope Valley to incorporate as a city on August 24, 1962; 47 years later, voters approved creating a charter city in November, 2009. Palmdale is...

. It was delivered to Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

 (KSC) on March 25, 1979, and was first launched on April 12, 1981—the 20th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

's space flight
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

—with a crew of two. Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

(OV-099) was delivered to KSC in July 1982, Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States, and was operational from its maiden flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011...

(OV-103) in November 1983, and Atlantis
Space Shuttle Atlantis
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is a retired Space Shuttle orbiter in the Space Shuttle fleet belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration , the spaceflight and space exploration agency of the United States...

(OV-104) in April 1985. Challenger was originally built and used as a Structural Test Article (STA-099) but was converted to a complete shuttle when this was found to be less expensive than converting Enterprise from its Approach and Landing Test configuration, according to NASA. Challenger was destroyed
Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 am EST...

 during ascent due to O-Ring failure on the right solid rocket booster (SRB) on January 28, 1986, with the loss of all seven astronauts on board. Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States. Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger...

(OV-105) was built to replace Challenger (using structural spare parts originally intended for the other orbiters) and delivered in May 1991; it was first launched a year later. Seventeen years after the Challenger accident, Columbia broke up on reentry
Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members...

, killing all seven crew members, on February 1, 2003, and it was not replaced. NASA maintains warehoused extensive catalogs of recovered pieces from the two destroyed orbiters. Out of the five fully functional shuttle orbiters built, three remain. Enterprise, which was used for atmospheric test flights but not intended for orbital flight, had many parts taken out for use on the other orbiters. It was later visually restored and is on display at the National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum 's annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States....

.


Accidents


In 135 missions, two shuttles have been destroyed, both with the loss of crew, a total of 14 astronauts:
  • Challenger
    Space Shuttle Challenger
    Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

    – lost 73 seconds after liftoff, STS-51-L
    STS-51-L
    STS-51-L was the twenty-fifth flight of the American Space Shuttle program, which marked the first time an ordinary civilian, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, had flown aboard the Space Shuttle. The mission used Space Shuttle Challenger, which lifted off from the Launch Complex 39-B on 28 January...

    , January 28, 1986
  • Columbia
    Space Shuttle Columbia
    Space Shuttle Columbia was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew...

    – lost approximately 16 minutes before its expected landing, STS-107
    STS-107
    -Mission parameters:*Mass:**Orbiter Liftoff: **Orbiter Landing: **Payload: *Perigee: *Apogee: *Inclination: 39.0°*Period: 90.1 min- Insignia :...

    , February 1, 2003

Status


Astronaut crews have performed vital servicing tasks on Hubble through four servicing missions since December 1993 in order to extend operating life with the replacement of aging hardware and enhancing scientific capability through the installation of advanced science instruments.


From September 2005 until early 2008, the manager of the space shuttle program was Wayne Hale
Wayne Hale
N. Wayne Hale Jr. is a former NASA engineer. Previously a flight director and space shuttle program manager, Hale served as NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Strategic Partnerships prior to his retirement on July 31, 2010....

. Hale then became NASA's deputy associate administrator for strategic partnerships. John Shannon, who had been Hale's deputy since November 2005, succeeded him as the Space Shuttle Program Manager.

After the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members...

 in 2003, the International Space Station operated on a skeleton crew of two for more than two years and was serviced primarily by Russian spacecraft. While the "Return to Flight" mission STS-114
STS-114
-Original crew:This mission was to carry the Expedition 7 crew to the ISS and bring home the Expedition 6 crew. The original crew was to be:-Mission highlights:...

 in 2005 was successful, a similar piece of foam from a different portion of the tank was shed. Although the debris did not strike the orbiter, the program was grounded once again for this reason.

The second "Return to Flight" mission, STS-121
STS-121
STS-121 was a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station flown by Space Shuttle Discovery. The main purposes of the mission were to test new safety and repair techniques introduced following the Columbia disaster of February 2003 as well as to deliver supplies, equipment and...

 launched on July 4, 2006, at 2:37 pm (EDT). Two previous launches were scrubbed because of lingering thunderstorms and high winds around the launch pad, and the launch took place despite objections from its chief engineer and safety head. A five-inch (13 cm) crack in the foam insulation of the external tank gave cause for concern; however, the Mission Management Team gave the go for launch. This mission increased the ISS crew to three. Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States, and was operational from its maiden flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011...

 touched down successfully on July 17, 2006 at 9:14 am (EDT) on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center.

Following the success of STS-121
STS-121
STS-121 was a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station flown by Space Shuttle Discovery. The main purposes of the mission were to test new safety and repair techniques introduced following the Columbia disaster of February 2003 as well as to deliver supplies, equipment and...

, all subsequent missions have been completed without major foam problems, and the construction of ISS nears completion (during the STS-118
STS-118
- Crew notes :Astronaut Clayton Anderson originally was slated to be launched to the ISS on this mission, but was moved to STS-117. His replacement was Alvin Drew....

 mission in August 2007, the orbiter was again struck by a foam fragment on liftoff, but this damage was minimal compared to the damage sustained by Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew...

).

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board, in its report, noted the reduced risk to the crew when a shuttle flies to the International Space Station (ISS), as the station can be used as a safe haven for the crew awaiting rescue in the event that damage to the shuttle orbiter on ascent makes it unsafe for re-entry. The board recommended that for the remaining flights, the shuttle always orbit with the station. Prior to Return to Flight, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe declared that all future flights of the shuttle would go to the ISS, precluding the possibility of executing the final Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle in 1990 and remains in operation. A 2.4 meter aperture telescope in low Earth orbit, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared...

 servicing mission which had been scheduled before the Columbia accident, despite the fact that millions of dollars worth of upgrade equipment for Hubble were ready and waiting in NASA warehouses. Many dissenters, including astronauts, asked NASA management to reconsider allowing the mission, but initially the director stood firm. On October 31, 2006, NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 announced approval of the launch of the space shuttle, Atlantis, the fifth and final shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, scheduled for August 28, 2008. However SM4/STS-125
STS-125
STS-125, or HST-SM4 , was the fifth and final space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope .Launch occurred on 11 May 2009 at 2:01 pm EDT...

 eventually launched in May 2009.

Retirement


The shuttle program, which was scheduled for mandatory retirement in 2011, saw the final launch with Atlantis launching on July 8, 2011, in accord with the directives President George W. Bush issued on January 14, 2004 in his Vision for Space Exploration. The shuttle's planned successor was to be Project Constellation
Project Constellation
Constellation Program is a human spaceflight program within NASA, the space agency of the United States. The stated goals of the program were to gain significant experience in operating away from Earth's environment, develop technologies needed for opening the space frontier, and conduct...

 with its Ares I
Ares I
Ares I was the crew launch vehicle that was being developed by NASA as part of the Constellation Program. The name "Ares" refers to the Greek deity Ares, who is identified with the Roman god Mars...

 and Ares V
Ares V
The Ares V was the planned cargo launch component of the Constellation program, which was to have replaced the Space Shuttle after its retirement in 2011. Ares V was also planned to carry supplies for a human presence on Mars...

 launch vehicles and the Orion Spacecraft; however, in early 2010 the Obama administration asked Congress to instead endorse a scaled-back plan with heavy reliance on the private sector.

NASA originally planned to make the Hubble a Smithsonian museum display, but decided to keep it in space until a successor is launched. Once the space shuttle fleet is retired this year (while Hubble still has many years of service life ahead) there will be no existing or planned spacecraft capable of returning the Hubble to Earth intact, so it is now very unlikely it will ever be on the ground again.

In an internal e-mail apparently sent August 18, 2008 to NASA managers and leaked to the press, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin
Michael D. Griffin
Michael Douglas Griffin is an American physicist and aerospace engineer. From April 13, 2005 to January 20, 2009 he served as Administrator of NASA, the space agency of the United States...

 stated his belief that the Bush administration had made no viable plan for U.S. crews to participate in the International Space Station beyond 2011, and that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy
Office of Science and Technology Policy
The Office of Science and Technology Policy is an office in the Executive Office of the President , established by Congress on May 11, 1976, with a broad mandate to advise the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs.The director of this office is...

 (OSTP) were actually seeking its demise. The email appeared to suggest that Griffin believed the only reasonable solution was to extend the operation of the shuttle beyond 2010, but noted that Executive Policy (i.e., the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

) is firm that there will be no extension of the shuttle retirement date, and thus no U.S. capability to launch crews into orbit until the Ares I
Ares I
Ares I was the crew launch vehicle that was being developed by NASA as part of the Constellation Program. The name "Ares" refers to the Greek deity Ares, who is identified with the Roman god Mars...

/Orion system becomes operational in 2014 at the very earliest. He appeared to indicate that he did not see purchase of Russian launches for NASA crews as politically viable following the 2008 South Ossetia war
2008 South Ossetia war
The 2008 South Ossetia War or Russo-Georgian War was an armed conflict in August 2008 between Georgia on one side, and Russia and separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other....

, and hoped the new US administration will resolve the issue in 2009 by extending shuttle operations beyond 2010. However, according to an article by former Space Shuttle program Director Wayne Hale on his official NASA blog, the space shuttle program, in preparation for the 2010 shutdown, has already terminated many specialty parts and materials contracts, many with small businesses whose only customer may have been the shuttle program and who closed shop and retired upon receiving their termination letters; as a result, it would be difficult and expensive at this point to extend the shuttle program, and there would be a lag of at least a year (without flights) before exhausted exotic parts and supplies could be replaced. The loss of talent from dismissed employees is another obstacle to program extension.

On September 7, 2008, NASA released a statement regarding the leaked e-mail, in which Griffin said:

A $2.5 billion spending provision allowing NASA to fly the space shuttle beyond its then-scheduled retirement in 2010 passed the Congress in April 2009, although neither NASA nor the White House requested the one-year extension.

NASA Authorization Act of 2008


U.S. Representative Dave Weldon
Dave Weldon
David Joseph Weldon, is an American politician and physician. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing .-Early life:...

 introduced H.R. 4837, known as the SPACE Act. This legislation would have kept the shuttle flying past 2010 at a reduced rate until the Orion spacecraft would have been ready to replace it. It would also have allowed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer
Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, also designated AMS-02, is a particle physics experiment module that is mounted on the International Space Station. It is designed to search for various types of unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays. Its experiments will help researchers study the formation of...

 to be launched to the ISS, which the schedule at the time did not allow.

On October 15, 2008, President Bush signed the NASA Authorization Act of 2008, giving NASA funding for one additional mission to "deliver science experiments to the station." The act allowed for an additional space shuttle flight, STS-134
STS-134
STS-134 was the penultimate mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program. The mission marked the 25th and final flight of . This flight delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier to the International Space Station. Mark Kelly served as the mission commander...

, to the ISS to install the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which was previously canceled.

Successor


On September 14, 2011, NASA announced that it had selected the design of a new Space Launch System
Space Launch System
The Space Launch System, or SLS, is a Space Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle being designed by NASA, following the cancellation of the Constellation Program, to replace the retired Space Shuttle. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 envisions the transformation of the Ares I and Ares V vehicle...

 that it said would take the agency's astronauts farther into space than ever before and provide the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

Shuttle applications


Space shuttle applications have included:
  • Spacelab
    Spacelab
    Spacelab was a reusable laboratory used on certain spaceflights flown by the Space Shuttle. The laboratory consisted of multiple components, including a pressurized module, an unpressurized carrier and other related hardware housed in the Shuttle's cargo bay...

     missions Including:
    • Science
    • Astronomy
    • Crystal growth
    • Space physics
  • Crew rotation and servicing of Mir
    Mir
    Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

     and the International Space Station
    International Space Station
    The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

     (ISS)
  • Manned servicing missions, such as to the Hubble Space Telescope
    Hubble Space Telescope
    The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle in 1990 and remains in operation. A 2.4 meter aperture telescope in low Earth orbit, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared...

     (HST)
  • Manned experiments in low Earth orbit
    Low Earth orbit
    A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

     (LEO)
  • Carried to LEO:
  • Components for the construction of the ISS
    • Supplies in Spacehab modules
      SPACEHAB
      Astrotech Corporation , formerly Spacehab Inc., is an aerospace company headquartered in Austin, Texas which provides commercial space products and services to NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, international space agencies, and global commercial customers...

       or Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
      Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
      A Multi-Purpose Logistics Module is a large pressurized container used on Space Shuttle missions to transfer cargo to and from the International Space Station . An MPLM was carried in the cargo bay of a Shuttle and berthed to the Unity or Harmony modules on the ISS. From there, supplies were...

      s
  • Carried satellites with a booster, the Payload Assist Module (PAM-D) or the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), to the point where the booster sends the satellite to:
    • A higher Earth orbit
      Orbit
      In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved path of an object around a point in space, for example the orbit of a planet around the center of a star system, such as the Solar System...

      ; these have included:
      • Chandra X-ray Observatory
        Chandra X-ray Observatory
        The Chandra X-ray Observatory is a satellite launched on STS-93 by NASA on July 23, 1999. It was named in honor of Indian-American physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar who is known for determining the maximum mass for white dwarfs. "Chandra" also means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit.Chandra...

      • Many TDRS
        TDRS
        A Tracking and Data Relay Satellite is a type of communications satellite that forms part of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System used by NASA and other United States government agencies for communications to and from independent "User Platforms" such as satellites, balloons, aircraft,...

         satellites
      • Two DSCS-III (Defense Satellite Communications System) communications satellites in one mission
      • A Defense Support Program
        Defense Support Program
        The Defense Support Program is a program of the U.S. Air Force that operates the reconnaissance satellites which form the principal component of the Satellite Early Warning System currently used by the United States....

         satellite
    • An interplanetary mission; these have included:
      • Magellan probe
        Magellan probe
        The Magellan spacecraft, also referred to as the Venus Radar Mapper, was a 1,035-kilogram robotic space probe launched by NASA on May 4, 1989, to map the surface of Venus using Synthetic Aperture Radar and measure the planetary gravity...

      • Galileo spacecraft
        Galileo spacecraft
        Galileo was an unmanned spacecraft sent by NASA to study the planet Jupiter and its moons. Named after the astronomer and Renaissance pioneer Galileo Galilei, it was launched on October 18, 1989 by the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-34 mission...

      • Ulysses probe
        Ulysses probe
        Ulysses is a decommissioned robotic space probe that was designed to study the Sun as a joint venture of NASA and the European Space Agency . The spacecraft was originally named Odysseus, because of its lengthy and indirect trajectory to near Solar distance...


Budget


Early during development of the space shuttle, NASA had estimated that the program would cost $7.45 billion ($43 billion in 2011 dollars, adjusting for inflation) in development/non-recurring costs, and $9.3M ($54M in 2011 dollars) per flight. Early estimates for the cost to deliver payload to low earth orbit were as low as $118 per pound ($260/kg) of payload ($635/pound in 2011 dollars), based on marginal or incremental launch costs, and assuming a 65,000 pound (30 000 kg) payload capacity and 50 launches per year.

The actual total cost of the shuttle program through 2011, adjusted for inflation, is $196 billion. The exact breakdown into non-recurring and recurring costs is not available, but, according to NASA, the average cost to launch a Space Shuttle as of 2011 is about $450 million per mission.

NASA's budget
NASA Budget
Each year, the United States Congress passes a Federal Budget detailing where federal tax money will be spent in the coming fiscal year.The following charts detail the amount of federal funding allotted to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration each year over its past fifty year history...

 for 2005 allocated 30%, or $5 billion, to space shuttle operations; this was decreased in 2006 to a request of $4.3 billion. Non-launch costs account for a significant part of the program budget: for example, during fiscal years 2004 to 2006, NASA spent around $13 billion on the space shuttle program, even though the fleet was grounded in the aftermath of the Columbia disaster and there were a total of three launches during this period of time. In fiscal year 2009, NASA budget allocated $2.98 billion for 5 launches to the program, including $490 million for "program integration", $1.03 billion for "flight and ground operations", and $1.46 billion for "flight hardware" (which includes maintenance of orbiters, engines, and the external tank between flights.)

Per-launch costs can be measured by dividing the total cost over the life of the program (including buildings, facilities, training, salaries, etc.) by the number of launches. With 134 missions, and the total cost of US$192 billion (in 2010 dollars), this gives approximately $1.5 billion per launch over the life of the program.

Assets and transition plan


The Space Shuttle Program occupies over 654 facilities, uses over 1.2 million line items of equipment and employs over 5,000 people. The total value of equipment is over $12 billion. Shuttle related facilities represent over a quarter of NASA's inventory. There are over 1,200 active suppliers to the program throughout the United States. NASA's transition plan has the program operating through 2010 with a transition and retirement phase lasting through 2015. During this time the Ares I
Ares I
Ares I was the crew launch vehicle that was being developed by NASA as part of the Constellation Program. The name "Ares" refers to the Greek deity Ares, who is identified with the Roman god Mars...

 and Orion
Orion (spacecraft)
Orion is a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, the space agency of the United States. Orion development began in 2005 as part of the Constellation program, where Orion would fulfill the function of a Crew Exploration Vehicle....

 as well as the Altair Lunar Lander were to be under development (although now these programs have been canceled).

Criticism



The space shuttle program has been criticized for failing to achieve its promised cost and utility goals, as well as design, cost, management, and safety issues.

After both the Challenger disaster
Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 am EST...

 and the Columbia disaster
Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members...

, high profile boards convened to investigate the accidents with both committees returning praise and serious critiques to the program and NASA management. Some of the most famous of the criticisms, most of management, came from Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...

, in his report that followed his appointment to the commission responsible for investigating the Challenger disaster.

Other STS program vehicles



Many other vehicles were used in support of the Space Shuttle program, mainly terrestrial transportation vehicles.
  • The Crawler-Transporter
    Crawler-Transporter
    The crawler-transporters are a pair of tracked vehicles used to transport spacecraft from NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building along the Crawlerway to Launch Complex 39. They were originally used to transport the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets during the Apollo, Skylab and Apollo–Soyuz programs....

     carried the Mobile Launcher Platform
    Mobile Launcher Platform
    The Mobile Launcher Platform or MLP is one of three two-story structures used by NASA to support the Space Shuttle stack during its transportation from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center as well as serve as the vehicle's launch platform...

     and the space shuttle from the Vehicle Assembly Building
    Vehicle Assembly Building
    The Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center was used to assemble and house American manned launch vehicles from 1968-2011. It is the fourth largest building in the world by volume...

     at Launch Complex 39 to Pad A.
  • The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
    Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
    The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft are two extensively modified Boeing 747 airliners that NASA uses to transport Space Shuttle orbiters...

     are two modified Boeing 747
    Boeing 747
    The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first wide-body ever produced...

    s. Either can fly an orbiter from alternative landing sites back to the Kennedy Space Center
    Kennedy Space Center
    The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

    .
  • A 36-wheeled transport trailer, the Orbiter Transfer System, originally built for the U.S. Air Force's launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base
    Vandenberg Air Force Base
    Vandenberg Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Base, located approximately northwest of Lompoc, California. It is under the jurisdiction of the 30th Space Wing, Air Force Space Command ....

     in California (since then converted for Delta IV rockets) would transport the orbiter from the landing facility to the launch pad, which allowed both "stacking" and launch without utilizing a separate VAB-style building and crawler-transporter roadway. Prior to the closing of the Vandenberg facility, orbiters were transported from the OPF to the VAB on their undercarriages, only to be raised when the orbiter was being lifted for attachment to the SRB/ET stack. The trailer allowed the transportation of the orbiter from the OPF to either the SCA-747 "Mate-Demate"
    Mate-Demate Device
    A Mate-Demate Device is a specialized crane designed to lift a Space Shuttle orbiter onto and off of the back of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Three Mate-Demate Devices were built, all of different designs....

     stand or the VAB without placing any additional stress on the undercarriage.
  • The Crew Transport Vehicle (CTV), a modified airport jet bridge, was used to assist astronauts to egress from the orbiter after landing. Upon entering the CTV, astronauts could take off their launch and re-entry suits then proceed to chairs and beds for medical checks before being transported back to the crew quarters in the Operations and Checkout Building
    Operations and Checkout Building
    The Operations and Checkout Building is a historic site on Merritt Island, Florida, United States. The five-story structure is in the Industrial Area of NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Its facilities include the crew quarters for astronauts prior to their flights. On January 21, 2000, it was added to...

    .
  • The Astrovan
    AstroVan
    The Crew Transport Vehicle, also known as the Astrovan, is a NASA vehicle used at the Kennedy Space Center to transport astronauts from the Operations and Checkout Building to the launch pad before a launch mission, to the pad for launch dress rehearsals, and back to Operations and Checkout...

     was used to transport astronauts from the crew quarters in the Operations and Checkout Building to the launch pad on launch day. It was also used to transport astronauts back again from the Crew Transport Vehicle at the Shuttle Landing Facility.

See also



  • Human spaceflight
    Human spaceflight
    Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

  • List of human spaceflights
  • List of space shuttle missions
  • Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle
  • Shuttle SERV
  • Space accidents and incidents
  • Space exploration
    Space exploration
    Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

  • Space Shuttle abort modes
    Space Shuttle abort modes
    A Space Shuttle abort was an emergency procedure due to equipment failure on NASA's Space Shuttle, most commonly during ascent. A main engine failure is a typical abort scenario. There are fewer abort options during reentry and descent...

  • Space Shuttle crews
    Space Shuttle crews
    This is a list of persons who served aboard Space Shuttle crews, arranged in chronological order by mission.Abbreviations:* PC = Payload Commander* MSE = USAF Manned Spaceflight Engineer...



Fiction
  • Space Flight Simulator
    Shuttle: the Space Flight Simulator (Virgin game)
    Shuttle is a space flight simulator game developed by Vektor Grafix and published by Virgin Games. It has been praised as a reasonably accurate simulation game of piloting the NASA Space Shuttle.-Description:thumb|left|Loading screen...

  • Orbiter Simulation
  • Space Shuttle Mission 2007
    Space Shuttle Mission 2007
    Space Shuttle Mission 2007, also SSM2007 is a highly realistic Space Shuttle stand-alone mission simulator for the Microsoft Windows XP and Vista operating system...


Physics
  • Atmospheric reentry
    Atmospheric reentry
    Atmospheric entry is the movement of human-made or natural objects as they enter the atmosphere of a celestial body from outer space—in the case of Earth from an altitude above the Kármán Line,...

  • Lifting body
    Lifting body
    A lifting body is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration in which the body itself produces lift. In contrast to a flying wing, which is a wing with minimal or no conventional fuselage, a lifting body can be thought of as a fuselage with little or no conventional wing...

  • Reusable launch system
    Reusable launch system
    A reusable launch system is a launch system which is capable of launching a launch vehicle into space more than once. This contrasts with expendable launch systems, where each launch vehicle is launched once and then discarded.No true orbital reusable launch system is currently in use. The...

  • Single-stage-to-orbit
    Single-stage-to-orbit
    A single-stage-to-orbit vehicle reaches orbit from the surface of a body without jettisoning hardware, expending only propellants and fluids. The term usually, but not exclusively, refers to reusable vehicles....



Similar spacecraft
  • Avatar RLV
    Avatar RLV
    -Articles:**-Reports:* ISRO...

  • EADS Phoenix
  • Hermes
    Hermes (shuttle)
    Hermes was a proposed spaceplane designed by the French Centre National d'Études Spatiales in 1975, and later by the European Space Agency. It was superficially similar to the US X-20. France proposed in January 1985 to go through with Hermes development under the auspices of the ESA. Hermes was...

  • HOPE-X
    HOPE-X
    HOPE was a Japanese experimental spaceplane project designed by a partnership between NASDA and NAL , started in the 1980s. It was positioned for most of its lifetime as one of the main Japanese contributions to the International Space Station, the other being the Japanese Experiment Module...

  • VentureStar
    VentureStar
    VentureStar was a proposed spaceplane design for a single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch system by Lockheed Martin. The program's primary goal as a United States federally funded program was to develop a reusable unmanned spaceplane for launching satellites into orbit at a fraction of the cost of...

  • Kliper
    Kliper
    Kliper is a partly reusable manned spacecraft, proposed by RSC Energia.Designed primarily to replace the Soyuz spacecraft, Kliper has been proposed in two versions: as a pure lifting body design and as spaceplane with small wings...

  • Military space shuttle
    Military space shuttle
    A military space shuttle would be the military equivalent of NASA's space shuttle. Many experts believed that it is extremely unlikely that NASA, the United States Department of Defense or any other Federal agency could keep the existence of such a spacecraft secret, given the official knowledge...

  • Project Constellation
    Project Constellation
    Constellation Program is a human spaceflight program within NASA, the space agency of the United States. The stated goals of the program were to gain significant experience in operating away from Earth's environment, develop technologies needed for opening the space frontier, and conduct...

  • Shuttle Buran program
    Shuttle Buran program
    The Buran program was a Soviet and later Russian reusable spacecraft project that began in 1974 at TsAGI and was formally suspended in 1993. It was a response to the United States Space Shuttle program. The project was the largest and the most expensive in the history of Soviet space exploration...

  • Martin Marietta Spacemaster
    Martin Marietta Spacemaster
    The Martin Marietta Spacemaster was a proposed configuration for what became the Space Shuttle, which featured an X-24-derived orbiter, and an unusual “catamaran style” booster stage. During launch and ascent, the orbiter would be located in a recess in the booster. The booster's 14 engines would...



Further reading


External links