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NASA's space shuttles were American icons of spaceflight. Never before had a winged spaceship blasted off from a rocket launching pad, soared through space, then returned home to land on a runway, and then turn around and do it again. NASA's space shuttles were the world's first reusable crewed spacecraft and flew in space for 30 years, from April 1981 to July 2011.
NASA has retired its space shuttle fleet to make way for a new deep space exploration program. See how the space shuttles worked in the infographic above.