My Tribute To The
Space Shuttle

 

 

 

 

 

The Space Shuttle has been a very big part of my life. I still remember the first time it went up. There were so many  delays that my husband and I started to believe that it was never goint to go up. Sadly enough we also saw it land for the last time. This is why I have decided to make my own tribute to the years we have had with this great spacecraft.

 

We have had a total of six Space Shuttles: Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor.

 Space shuttle Enterprise   never went into space, but rather performed tests critical to the shuttle's development and operation, particularly glide tests that showed the revolutionary spacecraft would be able to land safely after returning from space.

The Enterprise made its first appearance mated to supportive propellant containers/boosters cluster, as it was rolled from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center en route to the launch pad, some 3.5 miles away, on May 1, 1979. Enterprise underwent several weeks of fit and function checks on the pad in preparation for STS-1, on which its sister craft Columbia took astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into space for a 54-hour test mission. 

Since it never went into space it is not included in the Space Shuttle Fleet.

 

 

 

Images Credit: NASA.

 

 

NASA's space shuttle fleet began setting records with its first launch on April 12, 1981 and continues to set high marks of achievement and endurance. Starting with Columbia and continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, the spacecraft has carried people into orbit repeatedly, launched, recovered and repaired satellites, conducted cutting-edge research and built the largest structure in space, the International Space Station.

As humanity's first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the bounds of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of civil servants and contractors throughout NASA's field centers and across the nation have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission success and the greater goal of space exploration.

Space Shuttle Columbia spent 610 days in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF), another thirty-five days in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), and 105 days on Pad 39A before finally lifting off.  Columbia was successfully launched on April 12, 1981, the 20th anniversary of the first human spaceflight (Vostok 1), and returned on April 14, 1981, after orbiting the Earth 36 times, landing on the dry lakebed runway at Edwards  Air Force Base in California. Columbia then undertook three further research missions to test its technical characteristics and performance. Its first operational mission, with a four-man crew, wasSTS-5, which launched on November 11, 1982. At this point Columbia was joined by Challenger, which performed the next three shuttle missions, while Columbia underwent modifications for the first Spacelab mission.

In 1983, Columbia, under the command of John Young for his sixth spaceflight, undertook its second operational mission (STS-9), in which the Spacelab science laboratory and a six-person crew was carried, including the first non-American astronaut on a space shuttle, Ulf Merbold. After the flight, Columbia spent the next three years at the Rockwell Palmdale facility, undergoing modifications that removed the Orbiter Test Flight  hardware and bringing it up to similar specifications as that of its sister Orbiters. At that time the shuttle fleet was expanded to include Discovery and Atlantis.

Columbia returned to space on January 12, 1986, with the launch of STS-61-C. The mission's crew included Dr.Franklin Chang-Diaz, as well as the first sitting member of the House of Representatives to venture into space,Bill Nelson.

The next shuttle mission was undertaken by Challenger. It was launched on January 28, 1986, ten days after STS-61-C had landed. The mission ended in disaster 73 seconds after launch. In the aftermath NASA's shuttle timetable was disrupted, and Columbia was not flown again until 1989 (on STS-28), after which it resumed normal service as part of the shuttle fleet.

STS-93, launched on July 23, 1999, was commanded by Lt. Col.Eileen Collins, the first female Commander of a U.S. spacecraft.

 The space shuttle Columbia completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107It plummeted to Earth in flames Saturday and crashed in central Texas, taking  the lives of all seven astronauts on board.

NASA video showed that 81 seconds into the flight, a 20-inch, 2 1/2-pound piece of the foam fell off and struck Columbia's left wing. The shuttle Columbia was moving more than at twice the speed of sound. The impact is thought to have involved a relative speed of no more than 500 mph.

Following an independent investigation into the cause of the accident, President Bush decided to retire the Shuttle orbiter fleet in 2010 in favor of the Constellation program and its manned Orion spacecraft. However, President Obama signed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 on October 11 which officially brought the Constellation program to an end.

 

 

Images Credit: NASA.

 

 


 

Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle. to be put into service.  After its first flight in April 4, 1983, Challenger quickly became the workhorse of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet, flying far more missions per year than Columbia. In 1983 and 1984, Challenger flew on 85% of all Space Shuttle missions.  Even when the orbiters Discovery and Atlantis joined the fleet, Challenger remained in heavy use with three missions a year from 1983 to 1985. Challenger, along with Discovery, was modified at Kennedy Space Center to be able to carry the Centaur-G upper stage in its payload bay. Had STS-51-L been successful, Challenger's next mission would have been the deployment of the Ulysses probe with the Centaur to study the polar regions of the Sun. 

Challenger's many spaceflight accomplishments included the first American woman, African-American, and Canadian in space; three Spacelab missions; and the first night launch and night landing of a Space Shuttle.

Challenger was also the first space shuttle to be destroyed in an accident during a mission. It completed nine missions before breaking apart 73 seconds after the launch of its tenth mission, STS-51-L on January 28, 1986, resulting in the death of all seven crew members.

 It was the first of two shuttles (the other being Columbia) to be destroyed. The accident led to a two-and-a-half year grounding of the shuttle fleet, with  missions resuming in 1988 with the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-26. Challenger itself was replaced by the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which first launched in 1992. Endeavour was constructed from spare parts originally meant for Challenger and the other shuttles in the fleet.

 The collected debris of the vessel are currently stored in decommissioned missile silos at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. From time to time, further pieces of debris from the orbiter wash up on the Florida coast. When this happens, they are collected and transported to the silos for storage. Because of its early loss, Challenger was the only space shuttle that never wore the NASA "meatball" logo, and also was never modified with the MEDS "glass cockpit". The tail was also never fitted with a drag chute – it was fitted to the remaining orbiters in 1992.

 

 

 

 

Images Credit: NASA.

 


Space Shuttle Discovery  had its first flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011. Prior to its retirement, Discovery was NASA's Orbiter Fleet leader, having flown 39 successful missions in over 27 years of service.

In 1984, Discovery became the third operational orbiter following Columbia and Challenger, having spent a cumulative total of one full year (365 days) in space. Discovery has performed both research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions.

Discovery also flew the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. The second and third Hubble service missions were also conducted by Discovery.

Discovery was the first operational shuttle to be retired, followed by Endeavour and Atlantis. It has also launched the Ulysses probe and three TDRS satellites. It has been chosen twice as the "Return To Flight" Orbiter, first in 1988 after the 1986 Challenger disaster, and then for the twin "Return To Flight" missions in July 2005 and July 2006 after the 2003 Columbia disaster.

Discovery also carried Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who was 77 at the time, back into space during STS-95 on October 29, 1998, making him the oldest person to go into space.

Had the planned STS-62-A mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1986 for the United States Department of Defense gone ahead, Discovery would have flown.

Its final mission, STS-133, landed on March 9, 2011, in Kennedy Space Center, Florida. After decommissioning and delivery, the spacecraft will be displayed in Virginia at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

 

  

Images Credit: NASA.

Space Shuttles Enterprise and Discovery - Nose to Nose

 

Rockwell International Orbiter Vehicle Designation: Enterprise, OV-101, and Discovery, OV-103. Parked nose to nose during the ceremony in which NASA officially turns Discovery over to the Smithsonian Institution. It will be on permanent display at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport, replacing Enterprise, which will be flown to New York City for display at The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

 

 


Space Shuttle Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger. Endeavour first flew in May 1992 on mission STS-49 The United States Congress authorized the construction of Endeavour in 1987 to replace Challenger, which was lost in the STS-51-L launch accident in 1986. Structural spares built during the construction of Discovery and Atlantis, two of the previous shuttles, were used in its assembly. NASA chose to build Endeavour from spares rather than refitting Enterprise or accepting a Rockwell International proposal to build two shuttles for the price of one of the original shuttles, on cost grounds.In 1993, it made the first service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Endeavour was withdrawn from service for eight months in 1997 for a retrofit, including installation of a new airlock. In December 1998, it delivered the Unity Module to the Zarya module of the International Space Station.

Endeavour's last Orbiter Major Modification period began in December 2003 and ended on October 6, 2005. During this time, the Orbiter Vehicle-105 received major hardware upgrades, including a new, multi-functional, electronic display system, often referred to as glass cockpit, and an advanced GPS receiver, along with safety upgrades recommended by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) for the shuttle to return to flight after the disintegration of sister-ship Columbia during re-entry on 1 February 2003.

Endeavor's last mission STS-134 was in May 2011 The STS-134 mission was originally planned as the final mission of the Space Shuttle program, but with authorization of the STS-135 mission, Atlantis became the last Space Shuttle to fly.

 

Images Credit: NASA.

 

 


 

AtlantisSpace Shuttle Atlantis was the fourth operational (and the next-to-the-last) Space Shuttle to be constructed by theRockwell International company in Southern California, and it was delivered to theJohn F. Kennedy Space Center in eastern Florida in April 1985.  Atlantis was the only orbiter which lacked the ability to draw power from the International Space Station while docked there; it had to continue to provide its own power throughfuel cells.

Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off on its first voyage on 3 October 1985, on mission STS-51-J, the second dedicated Department of Defense flight. It flew one other mission, STS-61-B, the second night launch in the shuttle program, before the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster temporarily grounded the shuttle fleet in 1986.

Last Flight of the Space Shuttle Era!Atlantis was used for ten flights between 1988 and 1992. Two of these, both flown in 1989, deployed the planetary probes Magellan to Venus (on STS-30) and Galileo to Jupiter (on STS-34). With STS-30 Atlantis became the first shuttle to launch an interplanetary probe.  

During another mission, STS-37 flown in 1991, Atlantis deployed the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Beginning in 1995 with STS-71, Atlantis made seven straight flights to the former Russian space station Mir as part of the Shuttle-Mir Program. STS-71 marked a number of firsts in human spaceflight: 100th U.S. manned space flight; first U.S. shuttle-Russian Space Station Mir docking and joint on-orbit operations; and first on-orbit changeout of shuttle crew. When linked, Atlantis and Mir together formed the largest spacecraft in orbit at the time.

Shuttle Atlantis also delivered several vital components for the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). During the February 2001 mission STS-98 to the ISS, Atlantis delivered the Destiny Module, the primary operating facility for U.S. research payloads aboard the ISS. The five hour 25 minute third spacewalk performed by astronauts Robert Curbeam and Thomas Jones during STS-98 marked NASA's 100th extra vehicular activity in space.

Shuttle Atlantis also delivered several vital components for the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). During the February 2001 mission STS-98 to the ISS, Atlantis delivered the Destiny Module, the primary operating facility for U.S. research payloads aboard the ISS. The five hour 25 minute third spacewalk performed by astronauts Robert Curbeam and Thomas Jones during STS-98 marked NASA's 100th extra vehicular activity in space.

Last Flight of the Space Shuttle Era!The last mission of Atlantis was STS-135, the last flight before the Shuttle program ended. This final flight was authorized by President Barack Obama in October 2010, to bring additional supplies to the International Space Station and take advantage of the processing performed for the Launch on Need mission, which would only have been flown in the event that Endeavour's STS-134 crew required rescue.

Atlantis launched successfully for the final time on 8 July 2011 at 16:29 UTC, landing at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on 21 July 2011 at 09:57 UTC. By the end of its final mission, Atlantis had orbited the Earth 4,848 times, traveling nearly 126,000,000 mi (203,000,000 km) in space or more than 525 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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