Space Shuttle Program Sketches

The Shuttle is the only winged manned spacecraft to have achieved orbit and landing, and the only reusable manned space vehicle that has ever made multiple flights into orbit (the Russian shuttle Buran was very similar and was designed to have the same capabilities but made only one unmanned spaceflight before it was cancelled). Its missions involved carrying large payloads to various orbits (including segments to be added to the International Space Station (ISS)), providing crew rotation for the space station, and performing service missions on the Hubble Space Telescope. The orbiter also recovered satellites and other payloads (e. g. , from the ISS) from orbit and returned them to Earth, though its use in this capacity was rare. Each vehicle was designed with a projected lifespan of 100 launches, or 10 years’ operational life. Original selling points on the shuttles were over 150 launches over a 15-year operational span with a ‘launch per month’ expected at the peak of the program, but extensive delays in the development of the International Space Station never created such a peak demand for frequent flights.