The space shuttle Discovery soars away from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 30, 1984, beginning its maiden voyage and a storied spaceflight career that spanned more than 26 years.
This space shuttle program commemorative patch was designed by Blake Dumesnil of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Dumesnil's patch was the winner of the agency's Space Shuttle Program Commemorative Patch Contest. The design, coincidentally, also received the highest percentage of votes in an internal NASA People’s Choice poll.
The space shuttle Columbia is pictured on the launch pad prior to the launch of the STS-1 mission – the maiden flight of NASA's space shuttle program. Columbia is showered in lights on the pad, in preparation for a Flight Readiness Firing of its main engines. Columbia lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 12, 1981.
Like a rising sun, space shuttle Discovery rockets into the night sky on the STS-103 mission on Dec. 19, 1999 at 7:50 p.m. EST. The brilliant light creates a reflection of the launch in the water nearby. STS-103 was a servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. It was the 27th flight of Discovery and the 96th mission for the space shuttle program.
The space shuttle Discovery roars between the clouds into the blue Florida sky toward space on mission STS-120 to the International Space Station on Oct. 23, 2007.
Atlantis, which was being prepared for its STS-38 mission, is seen parked in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida following its rollback from Launch Pad 39A for repairs to the orbiter's liquid hydrogen lines. Space shuttle Columbia (left), scheduled to launch on its STS-35 mission, is rolled past shuttle Atlantis on its way to Launch Pad 39A.
Seen from behind, space shuttle Discovery kicks up dust as it touches down on Runway 33 of the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to complete the 15-day mission STS-120 on Nov. 7, 2007.
The space shuttle Discovery launched on its STS-31 mission on April 24, 1990 at 8:33 a.m. EDT. The mission featured the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, the first of NASA's Great Observatories to reach orbit.
With its drag chute unfurled, space shuttle Discovery rolls down Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Landing was at 11:57 a.m. EST, completing the 13-day STS-133 mission to the International Space Station.
The test shuttle Enterprise made its first appearance mated to supportive propellant containers and boosters as it was rolled from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center en route to the launch pad, some 3.5 miles away, on May 1, 1979. Enterprise underwent several weeks of fit and function checks on the pad in preparation for STS-1, on which its sister craft Columbia took astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into space for a 54-hour test mission.
The STS-51J mission was the first flight of the space shuttle Atlantis, which launched on Oct. 3, 1985 to deliver a communications satellite for the Department of Defense. Atlantis landed at Edwards Air Force Base in Calif. on Oct. 7, 1985 after a successful 4-day mission.
The newest addition to NASA's space shuttle fleet, Endeavour, arrives at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on May 7, 1991. Endeavour's first launch, the STS-49 mission, began with a flawless liftoff on May 7, 1992.
Space shuttle Endeavour lifts off to begin its first mission, STS-49, on May 7, 1992. The shuttle would rendezvous with a stranded communications satellite and return it to service.
Astronaut F. Story Musgrave, anchored on the end of the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm, prepares to be elevated to the top of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to install protective covers on the magnetometers during Endeavour's STS-61 mission, which launched on Dec. 2, 1993. Astronaut Jeffrey A. Hoffman inside the shuttle's payload bay, assisted Musgrave with final servicing tasks on the telescope, wrapping up five days of space walks.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour lights up the night sky as it embarks on the first U.S. mission, STS-88, dedicated to the assembly of the International Space Station. Liftoff on Dec. 4, 1998, from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, occurred at 3:35 a.m. EST.
A view of the shuttle Columbia as it soars beyond the launch pad into space on its STS-1 mission on April 12, 1981. This flight marked the beginning of NASA's space shuttle program.
This full view of Challenger in space was taken by a satellite. A heavily cloud-covered portion of the Earth forms the backdrop for this scene of Challenger in orbit. This image was taken during Challenger's STS-7 mission, which launched on June 18, 1983.
A view of the shuttle Challenger's maiden STS-6 launch on April 4, 1983. In this view, Challenger is just clearing the launch pad in a cloud of smoke.
Flaming exhaust spews from beneath one of the two solid rocket boosters on space shuttle Columbia, as it roared into the night sky on the STS-93 mission, which launched on July 23, 1999.
The space shuttle Discovery is seen from the International Space Station after the spacecraft undocked from the orbiting laboratory near the end of its STS-133 mission, which launched on Feb. 24, 2011. Discovery's final 13-day mission delivered supplies and a closet module to the station, which effectively wrapped up construction of the orbiting outpost from an American perspective.
At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, employees hold up a banner to commemorate space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission as it is moved from its hangar to the Vehicle Assembly Building on Feb. 28, 2011. The shuttle is due to launch its final mission STS-134 on April 19, 2011.
This image from 1996 shows the space shuttle Atlantis as it makes the slow journey to Launch Pad 39A from the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This dramatic view, looking directly down onto the shuttle from atop the Mobile Launcher Platform and crawler-transporter, was taken from the VAB roof approximately 525 feet (160 meters) above the ground.
The space shuttle Discovery's cargo bay over Earth's horizon was photographed by one of the seven STS-114 crewmembers as the shuttle approached the International Space Station. Discovery's STS-114 mission was NASA's first return-to-flight mission following the tragic loss of the shuttle Columbia and its astronaut crew. STS-114 launched on July 26, 2005.
The space shuttle prototype Enterprise flies free after being released from NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft over Rogers Dry Lakebed during the second of five free flights carried out at the Dryden Flight Research Center, in Edwards, Calif., as part of the shuttle program's Approach and Landing Tests (ALT). The tests were conducted to verify aerodynamics and handling characteristics in preparation for orbital flights with the Space Shuttle Columbia, which began in April 1981.
The space shuttle Challenger is rolled out to Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The orbiter cuts through the thick fog as it makes its way to the pad, in preparation for its maiden flight – the STS-6 mission. Challenger launched on its STS-6 flight on April 4, 1983.