NASA – Commonly known simply as the shuttle, the orbiter is both the brains and heart of NASA’s Space Transportation System. Hence, the STS before the number of every shuttle flight. About the same size and weight as a DC-9 aircraft, the orbiter contains the pressurized crew compartment (which can carry up to seven crew members), the cargo bay and the three main engines mounted on its aft end.
On April 12, 1981, commander John Young and pilot Robert Crippen roared into space on the first ever shuttle mission. Twenty years earlier on April 12, 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin ushered in the era of human space flight when he became the first person to orbit the Earth. Image Credit: NASA
New Homes For Shuttle Orbiters After Retirement
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday (4/12/11) announced the facilities where four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program.
- Shuttle Enterprise
the first orbiter built, will move from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.
- Shuttle Discovery
The Udvar-Hazy Center will become the new home for shuttle Discovery, which retired after completing its 39th mission in March.
- Shuttle Endeavour
which is preparing for its final flight at the end of the month, will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
- Shuttle Atlantis
which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.