NASA's Space Shuttle – From Top to Bottom (Infographic)

A graphical representative of NASA’s space shuttle.
A graphical representative of NASA’s space shuttle. (Image credit: Graphic by Karl Tate/


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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.

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Karl Tate contributor

Karl's association with goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. From 2010 to 2016, Karl worked as an infographics specialist across all editorial properties of Purch (formerly known as TechMediaNetwork).  Before joining, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University and now works as a freelance graphic designer in New York City.