NASA's space shuttle program in pictures: A tribute

Space Shuttle Discovery's Inaugural Launch


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.

NASA's Commemorative Patch

NASA/Blake Dumesnil

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.

Columbia Prepares for the First Launch


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.

Discovery's STS-103 Reflecting on the Lake


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.

Discovery Roaring Through Clouds

NASA/Tom Farrar, Scott Haun, Raphael Hernandez

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.

Double Time - Atlantis and Columbia Preparing for Missions


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.

Discovery Kicks Up Dust

NASA/Scott Haun, Tom Farrar, Raphael Hernandez

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.

Discovery Deploys Hubble


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.

Discovery Comes Home

NASA/Jack Pfaller

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.

Enterprise's First Appearance


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.

Atlantis Blasts off


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.

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