At the end of the 1960s NASA started its re-usable space shuttle project in order to reduce the costs of space travel. These space shuttles were to consist of 3 parts: the Space Shuttle, the fuel tank and the solid fuel rockets. In 1981 the first flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia took place. 4 more shuttles followed, all named after famous ships: Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour. Their task was to take satellites into space and conduct scientific experiments, and they were used for the setting up and maintenance of the ISS space station. One of the most important missions was surely the transport of the Hubble space telescope. A historic event was the docking of the American Space Shuttle on the Russian space station MIR in 1995. But there were also some bitter setbacks. In 1986 the Challenger shuttle exploded just a few seconds after take-off, and in 2003 the Columbia, after successfully completing its mission, disintegrated upon re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. On 8 July 2011 the Atlantis was the last Space Shuttle to take off on a space mission. After 30 years and 135 flights, this event marked the end of an era.

Lift-off weight of launch system: 2,000 t
Lift-off thrust of launch system: 2,870 t
Height of start system: 56 m
Weight of orbiter, empty: 68 t
Max. payload of orbiter: 29.5 t
Wing span: 23.8 m
Engine: 3 main engines with fuel from external tank