What is a space shuttle?

Asked 26-May-2022
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The Space Shuttle is a retired, partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system that was used by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from 1981 to 2011. The Space Transportation System (STS) was the official programme name, derived from a 1969 concept for a reusable spaceship system in which it was the only item funded for development.

The first of four orbital test flights (STS-1) took place in 1981, followed by operational flights (STS-5) in 1982. From 1981 through 2011, five complete Space Shuttle orbiter vehicles were built and flew on a total of 135 missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Operational missions launched numerous satellites, interplanetary probes, and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), carried out science experiments in orbit, collaborated with Russia on the Shuttle-Mir programme, and helped build and maintain the International Space Station (ISS).

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