Powering the Space Shuttle
On April 12, 1981, the space shuttle Columbia launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its first official mission, beginning an era of manned spaceflight unlike any before or since. Columbia looked more like a sophisticated plane than the bubble-with-legs design of the Apollo moon landers. The space shuttle missions were also quite different. This was no race to the moon—this was to be sustained science and space exploration.
Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour. For decades, space shuttles were the symbol of space exploration and innovation, and they were fueled by an iconic burnt-orange external tank that was designed and built by Lockheed Martin.
Sources and Additional Reading
- Harwood, William B. Raise Heaven & Earth. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
- Jenkins, Dennis R. Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions, 3rd Edition. Dennis Jenkins, 2001.
- “External Tank by the Numbers,” LM Space Systems Company.
- “Space Shuttle External Tank Fact Sheet,” LM Space Systems Company.
- NASA Shuttle Operations Archives,http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/shuttleoperations/archives/2005.html, accessed 16 July 2012 and http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/story/index.html, accessed 16 July 2012.