Space Shuttles and Space Stations

The flight of Apollo 17 in 1972 was the last manned lunar mission, but not the end of the U.S. manned space program. On April 12, 1981, the first Space Shuttle, a reusable spacecraft (the previous space capsules had been one-shot vehicles) was launched. The Shuttle was intended to transport personnel and cargo back and forth from a manned space station, planned for Earth orbit. So far, Shuttle missions have carried out a variety of experiments, have delivered satellites into orbit, and have even repaired and upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope (see Chapter 5, "The Art of Collecting Light (with a Telescope)"). In 1999, it started its most ambitious mission: the construction of an international space station, to be built in conjunction with Russia, Japan, and the European Space Agency (ESA). The realities of politics and economics mean that, in the twenty-first century, countries will be much more likely to cooperate in the race to space.

Close Encounter

Close Encounter

The Shuttle program suffered a tragic setback on January 28, 1986, when Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off, killing its entire 7-member crew, including a high-school teacher, the first ordinary citizen to fly aboard the craft. The accident, caused by flawed booster rocket seams (O-rings), resulted in the suspension of flights until the problem could be corrected. The celebrated physicist Richard Feynman was on the panel that investigated the Challenger disaster, and demonstrated with graphic simplicity how cold O-rings—he placed a small O-ring in ice water—would lose their required flexibility. Shuttle flights were resumed in 1988 with the three remaining Shuttle craft: Discovery, Columbia, and Atlantis.

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know all about the telescopes that can provide a fun and rewarding hobby for you and your family!

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