The flight campaign for the American space shuttle began on April 12, 1981, with the launch of STS-1 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and ended on July 21, 2011, with wheels stop of STS-135. During the 30 years and 135 missions in between, the program experienced triumphs and tragedies, amazed the world with its orbital exploits, and was frequently the subject of admiration, condemnation, pride, and despair. This book provides a detailed overview of the history of winged spacecraft and the development of the vehicle we call the "space shuttle," and provides a technical description of the orbiter, main engines, external tank, and solid rocket boosters. Two pages are dedicated to each of the 135 missions flown by the American space shuttle, including technical data, crew names, and photos of each mission. The Challenger and Columbia accidents are discussed, along with a discussion of what NASA did to fix the flaws and continue flying. The book concludes by covering the retirement of the vehicle and the delivery of the four remaining orbiters to their final display sites.
Dennis R. Jenkins worked as a contractor to NASA for 33 years, mostly on the Space Shuttle Program in a variety of engineering and management roles. He is the recipient of the American Astronautical Society's 2018 Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.