Space Shuttle Timeline

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Overview of two decades of the U.S. shuttle program

by Liz Olson
1980s 1990s 2000s
April 12, 1981
John Young and Robert Crippin pilot the space shuttle Columbia on the maiden flight of the Space Transport System (STS-1).
Nov. 11, 1982
Space shuttle Challenger is launched.
June 18–24, 1983
Sally RideSally Ride becomes the first American woman astronaut on the STS-7 flight of Challenger.
Aug. 30, 1983
The STS-8 Challenger flight introduces Guion S. Bluford, the first African-American astronaut to travel in space.
Feb. 7, 1984
Astronauts Bruce McCandless and Robert Stewart make the first untethered space walks (with jet backpacks) on this Challenger flight.
Aug. 30, 1984
First flight of space shuttle Discovery.
Aug. 8, 1985
Space ShuttleFirst flight of space shuttle Atlantis.
Oct. 3–7, 1985
Atlantis deploys a classified satellite for the Department of Defense.
Jan. 28, 1986
Challenger explodes 73 seconds into the flight.
Sept. 29–Oct. 3, 1988
The first shuttle flight after the Challenger disaster. Discovery launches a satellite.
May 4, 1989
The Magellan Venus probe is launched from Atlantis, the first U.S. planetary mission in 11 years and the first launched from a shuttle.
Oct. 18, 1989
Atlantis launches the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft.
April 24–29, 1990
Discovery mission launches the Hubble Space Telescope.
May 2–16, 1992
Endeavour’s maiden flight and the first 3-person spacewalk.
Dec. 2–13, 1993
This Endeavour flight successfully repairs the optics on the ailing Hubble Space Telescope.
Feb. 3–11, 1994
Sergei Krikalev becomes the first Russian cosmonaut on a U.S. shuttle mission.
Feb. 3–11, 1995
Eileen Collins becomes the first woman pilot, flying Discovery past the Russian space station Mir.
June 27–July 7, 1995
Space shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian Mir space station.
March 22–31, 1996
U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid is dropped off by Atlantis for a 181-day mission on the Mir, setting a record for a woman in space.
Oct. 29–Nov. 7, 1998
The first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn, returns to space aboard the Discovery.
Dec. 4–12, 1998
Endeavour makes the first human flight to the International Space Station. The construction mission connects the Zarya and Unity modules.
July 22–27, 1999
Col. Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to command a shuttle mission. Columbia launches the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
March 8–21, 2001
In the eighth shuttle mission to the International Space Station, Discovery picks up the Expedition One crew (delivered to the station in October by a Russian flight) and drops off Expedition Two.
March 1–12, 2002
Columbia makes the fourth Hubble Space Telescope maintenance/repair/upgrade visit.
Feb. 1, 2003
Crew of Columbia STS-107Fifteen minutes before completing its 28th mission, Columbia breaks up with the loss of all seven crew members.
July 26, 2005
Eileen Collins commands Discovery on the first shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster. Despite the safety measures, in an incident similar to that which caused the Columbia disaster, some foam insulation broke off the external tank after takeoff. Discovery continues its mission, but NASA grounds any further shuttle flights indefinitely.
July 4, 2006
The Discovery takes off for the International Space Station on the first Fourth of July liftoff, despite some reservations by the chief safety officer and chief engineer concerning the same foam insulation problem that downed Columbia in 2003 and and also occurred on 2005's shuttle flight.
August 8, 2007
Endeavour takes off for the International Space Station carrying the first teacher to ever visit space, Barbara Morgan. Morgan was once the backup to Christa McAuliffe, who was originally slated to become the first teacher in space, but was tragically killed in the Challenger disaster of 1986.
October 23, 2007
Discovery launches into space for a 14-day mission to the International Space Station carrying a new module that will expand the living space in the orbiting labratory.
March 26, 2008
Endeavour safely returns from its 16-day mission to the International Space Station. The Endeavour delivered the first section of the Japenese Kibo laboratory and a Canadian Space Agency robot called Dextre-every international partner has now contributed a major part to the ISS.
February 24, 2011
Discovery launches on its final mission and docks with the International Space Station. The crew consisted of six American astronauts, all of whom had been on prior spaceflights, including Commander Steven Lindsey. The crew joined the long-duration six person crew of Expedition 26, who were already aboard the space station. The mission transported several items to the space station, including the Permanent Multipurpose Module Leonardo, which was left permanently docked to one of the station's ports.
July 21, 2011
When the space shuttle Atlantis rolled into the Kennedy Space Center on July 21, NASA officially retired its Space Shuttle program after 30 years of service.

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