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
A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that...

 with modular add-ons. Major missions included launching numerous satellites and interplanetary probes, conducting space science experiments, and 37 missions constructing and servicing 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...

. A major international contribution was the 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...

 payload suite, from the ESA
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...


Major components included the orbiters
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...

, recoverable 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...

, external tanks
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...

, payloads, and supporting infrastructureorchestrated by thousands of people on the ground and crewed by an elite cadre of astronauts.
The Space Shuttle was a partially reuseable launch system and orbital spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 operated by the U.S.

1972    U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the development of a space shuttle program.

1976    The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, is unveiled by NASA.

1979    The first fully functional space shuttle orbiter, ''Columbia'', is delivered to the John F. Kennedy Space Center to be prepared for its first launch.

1981    The first launch of a Space Shuttle: ''Columbia'' launches on the STS-1 mission. thumb|290px|right|April 12: First [[Space Shuttle program|STS]] launch: [[Space Shuttle Columbia|''Columbia'']].

1982    NASA's Space Shuttle ''Columbia'', is launched from the Kennedy Space Center on its third mission, STS-3.

1982    Space Shuttle Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center on the final research and development flight mission, STS-4.

1983    During STS-6, astronauts Story Musgrave and Don Peterson perform the first space shuttle spacewalk.

1984    STS-41-D: The Space Shuttle ''Discovery'' takes off on its maiden voyage.

1984    Marc Garneau becomes the first Canadian in space, aboard the Space Shuttle ''Challenger''.

1988    The PEPCON disaster rocks Henderson, Nevada, as tons of space shuttle fuel detonates during a fire.