NASA's space shuttle era is coming to a close with the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis.
Once Atlantis returns home safely after its 12-day mission, the space shuttle era as we know it, will be over. The era officially kicked off in 1972, when President Nixon announced NASA would develop a reusable space shuttle system. Nearly 10 years later, the first shuttle, Columbia, launched into space as the first space shuttle program mission.
Over its 30 year history, the space shuttle era has been home to and seen some remarkable achievements. It was there for the launching of the Hubble telescope. It was there for the first woman in space as well as the African American. The space shuttle has been there for numerous discoveries.
Manned space missions will continue long after the space shuttle has ended and all of the remaining space shuttles have collected dust in various museums. However, it's best to not forget the impact the space shuttle program has had.
Here is a numbers breakdown of the space shuttle era (Most of these are through STS-134)
2 Tragedies (Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003)
537,114,016 Miles traveled
20,952 Earth Orbits
1,320 days, 1 hour, 32 minutes, 44 seconds spent in space
2 - Smallest crew size STS-1 through STS-4
8- Largest crew on STS-61A and on STS-71's return from Russian space station Mir
17 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes, and 18 seconds - Length of Columbia's STS-80 flight, the longest completed mission to date.
2 days, 6 hours, 13 minutes, and 12 seconds - Length of Columbia's STS-2 flight, the shortest completed mission to date.
36 - Shuttle-ISS Dockings.
77 - Shuttle landings at the SLF.
81 - Launches from Kennedy's Launch Pad 39A; 53 from Pad 39B.
28 years, 11 months, 21 days - Age of Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud , youngest person in space on Discovery STS-51G
77 - Age of John Glenn, oldest person to travel in space on Discovery STS-95 in 1998
306 men and 49 women have flown on shuttles
People representing 16 different countries
7 Missions - Jerry Ross and Franklin Chang-Diaz have each flown 7 times into space, tied for the most
$209 Billion - Approximate cost of the space shuttle program