Thursday, June 4, 2009

Naming the Space Shuttles

Unlike space rockets, NASA’s space shuttles, or orbiter vehicles, were designed to be re-used. Each has a name, but every mission on which it goes is given a unique number.
The acronym STS (Space Transportation System) has been used throughout the shuttle programme. The first nine flights were simply numbered STS – 1 (12-14 April 1981) to STS-9.A more complicated system was then used, but the original system of STS + number has been revived. They do not always fellow precise numerical order, as missions may be delayed and a later-numbered mission may have to take place before a previous one can be rescheduled.
Five Space shuttles were built. Of these, Discovery (first launch 1984), Atlantis (1985) and Endeavor (1992) remain in service. Challenger was destroyed during his 10th mission (STS- 51- L) on 28 January 1986 and Columbia was lost on re-entry from its 28th mission (STS-107) on 1 February 2003.
Endeavor was named after a competition among American Schoolchildren. Its name commemorates that of 18th- century British explorer captain James Cook’s ship, which sank in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island, in 1778.

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