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NASA's Reusable Space Plane
After 30 years of service, NASA's fleet of three space shuttles is standing down for good.
The final shuttle mission planned, the STS-135 launch of Atlantis, launched in July 2011. After that, the orbiters will be headed to museums to live out their lives on public display.
As we say goodbye to the iconic reusable space planes, here are eight surprising shuttle facts to keep in mind:
Top SpeedSlide 2 of 17
While in orbit, the space shuttle travels around Earth at a speed of about 17,500 miles (28,000 kilometers) per hour. At this speed, the crew can see a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes. [Top 10 Space Shuttle Photos]Slide 3 of 17
Well TraveledSlide 4 of 17
The combined mileage of all five orbiters is 513.7 million miles (826.7 million km), or 1.3 times the distance between Earth and Jupiter. Each orbiter, except for Challenger, traveled farther than the distance between Earth and the sun.Slide 5 of 17
Presidential AttentionSlide 6 of 17
Only one president has been on hand to witness a space shuttle launch. President Bill Clinton, along with his wife Hillary Clinton, watched Mercury astronaut John Glenn's return to space on the STS-95 flight on Oct. 29, 1998 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
President Obama had planned to watch the shuttle Endeavour lift off on its final mission STS-134, on April 29, 2011, but that launch was delayed. The President and his family did visit the spaceport anyway.Slide 7 of 17
Space ScienceSlide 8 of 17