NASA’s space shuttle fleet began setting records with its first launch
on April 12, 1981 and continued to set high marks of achievement and
endurance through 30 years of missions. Starting with Columbia and
continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, the
spacecraft has carried people into orbit repeatedly, launched, recovered
and repaired satellites, conducted cutting-edge research and built the
largest structure in space, the International Space Station. The final
space shuttle mission, STS-135, ended July 21, 2011 when Atlantis rolled
to a stop at its home port, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
As humanity’s first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the
bounds of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced
technologies but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of
civil servants and contractors throughout NASA’s field centers and
across the nation have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission
success and the greater goal of space exploration.