The development of the Space shuttle has allowed many opportunities to explore the universe. There is so much about the other planets and space that we do not know about. Space shuttles allow people to travel into space and allow things to be sent into space. There has been six space shuttles: Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor. Currently they are all on display at various museums and centers throughout the United States with the exception of the two, Challenger and Columbia, that were destroyed in flight. Space shuttles not only enable greater exploration, but they allow supplies to be taken to a space station.
The first space shuttle ever, called Enterprise, was built in 1976.1 It was originally developed as a test shuttle, without the ability for actual spaceflight, and was the only of the six shuttles that never made a trip out of the atmosphere. Enterprise is currently on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City and has been since July 2012.2 Even though Enterprise never made it to space, it is still helpful in further space shuttle research. For example, after the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated, Enterprise was studied and tested in order to discover what caused the accident.3
After Enterprise, a new kind of space vehicle began to be built. “The space shuttle's components include: the orbiter, three main engines, the external tank, and two solid rocket boosters. Altogether, the launch weight is about 4.5 million pounds.”4 The first ship to be built like this was Columbia. The difference between this and Enterprise was that Enterprise did not have engines or a heat shield. The orbiter is the aluminum part of the space shuttle, built to last over 100 flights, that houses the fuselages. There are different types of fuselages that contain different elements of the shuttle. The forward fuselage is where the controls are and is where the crew works; the mid fuselage contains the payload bay; and the aft fuselage contains the main engines. The next component of the shuttle is the three main engines. These engines are used during liftoff to get the shuttle into orbit. Third is the external tank, which powers the main engines and is used only once. The last component of the shuttle are the rocket boosters. These help the main engines during liftoff and are then dropped of the shuttle into the ocean.5
The Columbia was one of the first space shuttles to ever enter space. It blasted into space from the Kennedy Space Center at 7 a.m. on April 12, 1981. This vehicle was built to last for over 100 space flights, which was rare because many exploration tools were only used once. The main purpose of the November 1983 flight of Columbia was “to carry the Spacelab, which is testing ways that industry can use in space.”6 These experiments included many different products to see if they would be made differently in space. In its lifetime, Columbia completed 27 missions. On the last mission, the...