Despite its problems, the Space Shuttle has been a major step forward in spaceflight, carrying out more than 100 successful missions and pointing the way for future reusable spacecraft.
The breakup of Columbia following damage to its insulating tiles led to a decision to retire all the shuttles once the ISS is completed, by 2010.
There was also the question of the Shuttle's purpose— the satellite launch market was becoming increasingly competitive as other countries developed their own launch vehicles. in 1984, US President Ronald Reagan announced plans for a new space station, to be constructed by the Shuttle. Political changes and budget cuts transformed this into the international Space Station (iSS). its construction has suffered numerous setbacks, including the loss of another shuttle, Columbia, in 2003.
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