Framework

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Jan. 5, 1972: President Nixon and NASA Administrator Dr. James Fletcher discuss the proposed space shuttle vehicle in San Clemente. The president announced that day that the United States should proceed at once with the development of an entirely new type of space transportation system designed to help transform the space frontier into familiar territory.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Sept. 17, 1976: The shuttle Enterprise rolls out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities with "Star Trek" cast members. From left to right: NASA Administrator Dr. James D. Fletcher, DeForest Kelley (Dr. "Bones" McCoy), George Takei (Mr. Sulu), James Doohan (Mr. Scott), Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura), Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock), show creator Gene Roddenberry and Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov).

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Oct. 12, 1977: The space shuttle prototype Enterprise rises from the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to begin a powerless glide back to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California, its fourth of five such flights in the shuttle program's Approach and Landing Tests.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Jan. 1, 1977: Shuttle prototype Enterprise flies free after being released from NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft over Rogers Dry Lake Bed during the second of five free flights carried out at the Dryden Flight Research Center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Oct. 12, 1977: Shuttle prototype Enterprise flies free after being released from NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to begin a powerless glide back to the Dryden Flight Research Center. The tests were carried out at Dryden to verify the aerodynamic and control characteristics of the orbiters.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

March 15, 1978: Enterprise is seen heading south on Rideout Road near the Redstone Arsenal Fire Station while being transported to Marshall Space Flight Center for mated vertical ground vibration tests. The tests marked the first time that the entire shuttle complement (including orbiter, external tank and solid rocket boosters) was mated vertically.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

July 26, 1978: The Enterprise is removed from Marshall Space Flight Center's Dynamic Test Stand.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

April 21, 1978: Enterprise is lowered for mating to the external tank inside Marshall Space Flight Center's Dynamic Test Stand for Mated Vertical Ground Vibration Tests. The tests marked the first time that the entire shuttle complement (including orbiter, external tank and solid rocket boosters) was mated vertically.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

May 1, 1979: Space shuttle Enterprise makes its first appearance mated to its huge fuel and solid rocket boosters as it is rolled from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center en route to the launch pad, some 3.5 miles away.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

May 7, 1979: STS-1 Commander John Young, left, and pilot Robert Crippen pose with a model of the shuttle Columbia at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Young and Crippen flew the first orbital mission of NASA's space shuttle program aboard the Columbia on April 12, 1981.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Dec. 12, 1980: Space shuttle Columbia arrives at launch complex 39-A in preparation for mission STS-1.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Feb. 19, 1981: The sun sets as space shuttle Columbia sits on the launch pad. STS-1 launched on April 12, 1981, on the first orbital flight of the shuttle program.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

April 12, 1981: NASA's shuttle Columbia rises above Launch Complex 39's Pad A. Commander John Young and pilot Robert Crippen were on board STS-1, the first orbital flight of the space shuttle program.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

April 14, 1981: Columbia touches down on lake bed Runway 23 to conclude the first orbital shuttle mission.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

April 24, 1981: Columbia rests on Rogers Dry Lake bed after its first orbital mission.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Nov. 12, 1981: An aerial view of the STS-2 Columbia launch taken by astronaut John Young aboard NASA's shuttle training aircraft.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Nov. 30, 1982: The shuttle Challenger moves through the fog on its way on the crawler en route to Launch Pad 39-A.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

June 22, 1983: View of Challenger in space, taken by the Space Pallet Satellite.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

April 9, 1983: View of Challenger being returned to Kennedy Space Center in a flyover of the Johnson Space Center and the Houston skyline.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

June 25, 1983: Astronaut Sally Ride, mission specialist on STS-7, monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the flight deck of Challenger. Ride became the first American woman in space on the STS-7 mission.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Feb. 12, 1984: Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II is seen farther from the confines and safety of the Challenger than any previous astronaut had ever been from an orbiter. This was made possible by the Manned Maneuvering Unit, a nitrogen-gas-propelled backpack.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Nov. 14, 1984: Discovery astronaut Dale Gardner, having just completed the major portion of his second spacewalk in three days, holds up a "For Sale" sign referring to the two satellites, Palapa B-2 and Westar 6, that were retrieved from orbit after their Payload Assist Modules failed to fire. Astronaut Joseph P. Allen IV, who also participated in the two spacewalks, is reflected in Gardner's helmet visor. A portion of each satellite is visible in the lower right corner, with Westar 6 nearer Discovery's aft.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

1986: Teacher Christa McAuliffe experiences microgravity during a special flight aboard a KC-135 "zero gravity" aircraft. McAuliffe was to represent the Teacher in Space Project aboard the shuttle Challenger STS 51-L.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

NASA's space shuttle Challenger (STS-51L) crew members, from left, Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Pilot Mike Smith, teacher Christa McAuliffe, Commander Dick Scobee, Payload Specialist Greg Jarvis, Mission Specialist Ron McNair and Mission Specialist Judy Resnik.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Jan. 28, 1986: Icicles on the launch pad and service tower in the evening and early morning hours before the launch of the space shuttle Challenger.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Jan. 28, 1986: The space shuttle Challenger and her seven-member crew were lost when a ruptured O-ring in the right solid rocket booster caused an explosion soon after launch. This photograph, taken a few seconds after the accident, shows the space shuttle main engines and solid rocket booster exhaust plumes entwined around a ball of gas from the external tank.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Jan. 30, 1986: With the help of the Coast Guard and the Navy, search and recovery teams retrieve pieces of the Challenger from the Atlantic Ocean near the Kennedy Space Center. Vessels brought the debris to the Trident Basin at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where they were shipped to Kennedy for investigation. The Coast Guard cutter Dallas transported this fragment of exterior tiling.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Jan. 26, 1990: The space shuttle Columbia arrives atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at Kennedy Space Center. The Vehicle Assembly Building is in the background.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Aug. 2, 1991: The space shuttle Atlantis (STS-43) lifts off.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Jan. 1, 1991: Atlantis is suspended in the Mate-Demate Device at the Dryden Flight Research Center.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Sept. 12, 1993: The space shuttle Discovery (STS-51) lifts off.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Dec. 9, 1993: Astronaut F. Story Musgrave, anchored on the end of the robot arm, prepares to be elevated to the top of the Hubble Space Telescope to install protective covers on the magnetometers. Astronaut Jeffrey A. Hoffman inside payload bay of Discovery, assisted Musgrave with final servicing tasks on the telescope, wrapping up five days of spacewalks.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Sept. 19, 1994: Astronauts Carl Meade and Mark Lee (red strip on suit) test a new EVA rescue system some 130 nautical miles above Earth aboard Discovery (STS-64).

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

June 29, 1995: Fish-eye view of the space shuttle Atlantis in orbit as seen from the Russian Mir space station during the STS-71 mission.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Nov. 24, 1995: The five STS-74 astronauts aboard Atlantis look out overhead windows on the aft flight deck toward their counterparts aboard the Mir Russian space station, with which they had just rendezvoused. The crew members, from the top, are Kenneth Cameron, mission commander; Jerry Ross, mission specialist; James Halsell Jr., pilot; William McArthur Jr. and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, both mission specialists.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Sept. 16, 1994: Against the backdrop of Earth 130 nautical miles below, astronaut Mark Lee tests a new EVA rescue system aboard Discovery (STS-64).

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Feb. 19, 1997: Attached to the robot arm, the Hubble Space Telescope is lifted up into the sunlight during a second servicing mission, designated HST SM-02, aboard Discovery.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

June 6, 1999: Space shuttle Discovery touches down in a rare night landing at Kennedy Space Center. Discovery's mission STS-96 took supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Oct. 2001: The seven STS-107 crew members pose for their portrait. They were killed Feb. 1, 2003, when Columbia broke up during reentry. Seated in front, from left, are astronauts Rick D. Husband, mission commander; Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; and William C. McCool, pilot. Standing are, from left, astronauts David M. Brown, Laurel B. Clark, and Michael P. Anderson, all mission specialists; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist representing the Israeli Space Agency.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Feb. 1, 2003: Debris from the space shuttle Columbia streaks across the sky over Tyler, Texas. Amateur photographer Dr. Scott Lieberman shot a series of photos showing the breakup of the space shuttle from his backyard in Tyler.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dr. Scott Lieberman / Morning Telegraph

March 13, 2003: In a hangar, Columbia debris is placed a grid. The Columbia Reconstruction Project Team attempted to reconstruct the orbiter as part of the investigation into the accident that caused the destruction of Columbia and loss of its crew as it returned to Earth on mission STS-107.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Sept. 17, 2006: The space shuttle Atlantis (STS-115) undocks from the International Space Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

June 10, 2007: The space shuttle Atlantis, approaching the International Space Station, performs a back-flip to allow photography of its heat shield.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Dec. 10, 2008: The space shuttle Endeavour, mounted atop a modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft, flies over California's Mojave Desert on its way back to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after completing the STS-126 mission.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Aug. 30, 2009: Discovery performs a full 360-degree backflip in this view from the International Space Station as the two spacecraft draw near before docking.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

March 11, 2009: A nearly full moon sets as the space shuttle Discovery sits atop Launch pad 39-A. Discovery launched on March 15.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Aug. 4, 2009: The space shuttle Discovery rolls out to Launch Pad 39-A with lightning in the distance. Discovery was launched on Aug. 28 on its STS-128 mission to the International Space Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Sept. 1, 2009: Space Shuttle Discovery Commander Rick Sturckow is seen through the window of the orbiter in this view taken by one of the space-walking astronauts.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Sept. 20, 2008: The space shuttle Atlantis sits on Launch Pad A in the foreground and the space shuttle Endeavour on Launch Pad B in the background. For the first time since July 2001, two shuttles are on the launch pads at the same time. Endeavour was on standby in the event a rescue mission was necessary for a planned Atlantis mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Delays pushed Atlantis' flight back to May 24, 2009.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

May 14, 2010: Lt. Col. Gabriel Green and Capt. Zachary Bartoe patrol the airspace in an F-15E Strike Eagle as the space shuttle Atlantis (STS-132) launches.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Capt. John Peltier / U.S. Air Force

Feb. 9, 2010: The space shuttle Endeavour is silhouetted against the backdrop of Earth's horizon before docking with the International Space Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

March 9, 2011: The space shuttle Discovery is pictured after it undocking from the International Space Station during its 27th and final mission.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

May 28, 2011: With a view of Earth at nighttime and the starry sky in the background, the space shuttle Endeavour is docked to the International Space Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

May 29: 2011: This International Space Station photographed by a crew member on the space shuttle Endeavour.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

July 18, 2011: Space shuttle Atlantis is pictured while still docked with the International Space Station in this photo taken by a crew member aboard the station. The Atlantis, the last U.S. space shuttle, departed the International Space Station on July 19, 2011, ending a 12-year program to build and service the orbital outpost, the primary legacy of NASA's shuttle fleet.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

July 21, 2011: In a streak of light during reentry, the space shuttle Atlantis returns to earth, photographed by the crew of the International Space Station. Atlantis and four astronauts returned from the International Space Station, bringing an end to NASA's 30-year shuttle journey.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: NASA

Apr. 17, 2012: Space shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), flies over the Washington skyline as seen from a NASA T-38 aircraft. Discovery was transferred to the National Air and Space Museum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Markowitz / NASA

June 6, 2012: The space shuttle Enterprise, atop a barge, passes the Statue of Liberty in New York on its way to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum where it will be permanently displayed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bill Ingalls / NASA

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Space Shuttle pictures 1972-2011

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Space Shuttle pictures 1972-2011

With the flight of Atlantis, the 30-year-plus space shuttle program comes to an end. Six shuttles — five operational and one test vehicle — were built. Two, the Challenger and Columbia, were lost in accidents, killing 14 crew members. The remaining four shuttles will be retired to museums.

This gallery consists of over 50 images released by NASA from the years 1972-2011. Most come from a package moved by Reuters earlier in June. A few others come from Associated Press. I added one important image — the Columbia breakup during reentry — shot by Dr. Scott Lieberman and moved to AP by the Tyler (Texas) Morning Telegraph.

5 Comments

  1. July 8, 2011, 12:10 am

    Where is Capt. Kirk?

    By: mamark
  2. July 8, 2011, 8:12 am

    I'm glad I saw this in my lifetime

    By: chip
  3. July 21, 2011, 5:51 am

    Jul 21 2011

    It has been a great time for people who enjoy space, science fiction, etc., – for me when I was 5 years old watching the Apollo missions on the B&W TV on a six foot stand with 30 others in my class – it has been a long and enjoyable period of history, and it will only get better – thanks NASA and the American people.

    Michael from CANADA

    By: Michael Ishoj
  4. October 11, 2011, 2:00 pm

  5. September 17, 2012, 6:51 pm

    Mercury,Gemini,Apollo, and now The Shuttles; gone! It makes me want to cry ! I hope I live to see the advent of another space program. Andy of Macon ,GA

    By: drewddddddddd

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