Space Shuttle History
NASA built five space shuttles for space flight — Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. The first flight was made by Columbia on April 12, 1981. Three of the shuttles still exist today: Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour are retired. Columbia was sadly destroyed during re-entry and Challenger was destroyed at launch. A sixth shuttle, Enterprise, was the original shuttle and was never flown in space.
Russian Space Shuttle History:
The Soviet shuttle program began in 1974 and was formally suspended in 1993. It built the one and only Buran shuttle that was later destroyed in a hangar collapse at Banikour Cosmodrome.
NASA Space Shuttles Retired:
April 17, 2012 — Space Shuttle Discovery, NASA’s fleet leader and the world’s most flown spacecraft, landed in the nation’s capital on Tuesday (April 17) where it will go on permanent display by the Smithsonian later this week. The retired spacecraft was delivered to the nation’s capital mounted to the space agency’s Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet, on a final ferry flight that included an historic flyover of the National Mall and some of its nearby monuments and federal buildings.
The air- and spacecraft duo landed at Washington Dulles International Airport at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT). “This is a WOW day!” exclaimed Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “That is the only way to express it. I don’t know how many people said ‘wow!’ when they saw that beautiful Discovery flying over and coming in. This is a great day for America.”
The four hour flight left the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:58 a.m. (1058 GMT), just after dawn. Guests at Kennedy’s visitor complex and spectators along the space coast were treated to a final flyby of Discovery before the shuttle began its trip up the Eastern Seaboard.
The departure marked a final separation for Discovery and the Kennedy Space Center, which had served as the shuttle’s home base and launch site since it was first delivered to the Florida spaceport atop the same carrier aircraft on Nov. 9, 1983.
In the three decades since, Discovery flew 39 missions — more than any other spacecraft in history — and logged more than a year in space. It became the first of NASA’s three shuttles to be retired when it landed a final time from space on March 9, 2011.
Final NASA Space Shuttle Flight:
September 21, 2012: The Space Shuttle Endeavour took off Friday morning from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on the back of its converted Boeing 747 transporter known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) for its final flight before retiring to the California Science Museum in Los Angeles.