1981 – space shuttle

The space shuttle is a reusable orbital vehicle that jettisons two solid rocket boosters and an external fuel tank before entering Earth orbit. The shuttle flew a total of 135 missions between 1981 and 2011. In 1986, the Challenger was destroyed by an explosion, resulting in the loss of all seven crew members. In 2003, the Columbia disintegrated during re-entry, resulting in the loss of all seven crew members. The other 133 launches and landings were successful, logging over 21,000 orbits of Earth and over 8,000 days of manned spaceflight.

PRECURSOR:
1903 – Wright brothers flight
1946 – Bell X-1
1957 – Sputnik
1959 – X-15
1960 – Vostok rocket
1961 – Vostok spacecraft (Gagarin)
1961 – Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7 – Shepard)
1965 – Gemini 3 (Grissom, Young)
1966 – Soyuz
1967 – Saturn V
1967 – Apollo 7
1969 – Apollo 11 lands on the Moon
1973 – Skylab 2

CONCURRENT:
1979 – Ariane

SUBSEQUENT:
1998 – International Space Station (ISS)
2002 – Atlas V
2006 – X-37

The Space Shuttle (Narrated by William Shatner)

An idea born in unsettled times becomes a feat of engineering excellence. The most complex machine ever built to bring humans to and from space and eventually construct the next stop on the road to space exploration.

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