“As a former astronaut and the current NASA Administrator, I’m here to tell you that American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we have laid the foundation for success — and failure is not an option.”  Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator

NASA: To Infinity and Beyond! For decades the NASA Space Shuttle program has created jobs, technologies which generated over 100 spinoffs for everyday use, and has made a significant American presence in the International Space Station. With over 130 missions and 20,000 orbits around the Earth the five shuttles: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor have been successful in carrying crew and payloads into space, placing large satellites into orbit, and deploying and servicing the Hubble Space Telescope.

This year brought the end of the Shuttle Space program but the mission of NASA does not end there. NASA is embarking on a new journey, one that will launch robotic probes into the depths of the solar system as precursors to manned missions. According to NASA’s National Press Release dated on July 1st, 2011, “NASA is designing and building the capabilities to send humans to explore the solar system, working toward a goal of landing humans on Mars.” In tandem with its initiatives listed on their site, NASA will continue to ensure a strong presence in space and empower a robust and competitive American commercial space program.

Below we listed fun facts about NASA’s Space Shuttle Program and included a visual of how a space shuttle orbits to space.  To learn more about the program visit www.space.com.

Learn More About the Fleet:

Columbia – First launched April 12, 1981. Destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003.

Challenger – First launched April 4, 1983. Destroyed after take-off on January 28, 1986.

Discovery – First launched on August 30, 1984. Will be placed on permanent display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Atlantis – First launched on October 3, 1985. Will be placed on permanent display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Endeavour – First launched on May 7, 1992. Will be placed on permanent display at the California Science Center.


Additional References:
NASA’s Space Shuttle: Perspectives on Technology Transfer by Daniel Lockney
NASA’s Space Shuttle Program: www.space.com
NASA’s Spinoffs: http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto