Featured Images: The Space Shuttle Era

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Space Shuttle Program: Spanning 30 Years of Discovery

    NASA's space shuttle fleet began setting records with its first launch on April 12, 1981 and continued to set high marks of achievement and endurance through 30 years of missions. Starting with Columbia and continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, the spacecraft has carried people into orbit repeatedly, launched, recovered and repaired satellites, conducted cutting-edge research and built the largest structure in space, the International Space Station. The final space shuttle mission, STS-135, ended July 21, 2011 when Atlantis rolled to a stop at its home port, NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    As humanity's first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the bounds of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of civil servants and contractors throughout NASA's field centers and across the nation have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission success and the greater goal of space exploration.

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Shuttle Features

Lift and Tilt Prepares Atlantis for Display

Space shuttle Atlantis is lifted and tilted into its display position

Still in its protective shrink wrap, space shuttle Atlantis has been raised and tilted into display position at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

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Ceremonies Celebrate Atlantis in Move to New Home

Atlantis on the OTS

Atlantis starred in a daylong parade and celebration as the shuttle was moved into an exhibit hall at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

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Atlantis' Payload Bay Doors Closed for Final Time

The right payload bay door closes on space shuttle Atlantis

The storied spacecraft's pair of 60-foot-long doors were closed Sept. 20 during preps for permanent display.

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Endeavour Flyovers Draw Excited Fans

The shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA) and Endeavour

NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft pilots will carry Endeavour to its new home in Los Angeles.

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Atlantis' New Home Tops Out

A crane lifts highest beam into place.

Workers placed a steel beam in place at the highest point of the exhibit hall being built for space shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center.

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Video Vault

Mission Extras