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Facts and World Records: Space Shuttles II

Interestingly, NASA has plans to retire the space shuttle program , nearly 30 years after it first made headlines. Many different significant achievements and history-making moments have taken place with a space shuttle at the center of the news. In this article, you will encounter some of the records and interesting facts concerning NASA’s space shuttle.

First Shuttle Docking

When Atlantis docked with the Russian Mir space station on June 29, 1995, this event marked the first shuttle docking. It also was the first act in the Shuttle-Mir Program. By this time, the United States had finished 100 flights into space. Atlantis transported cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyev and Nikolai Budarin to Mir, and returned Russians Vladimir Dezhurov and Gennady Strekalov along with Norm Thagard (from the United States) back to Earth. The astronauts and cosmonauts participated in what was the first time a shuttle crew had changed in orbit.

First Inflight Repair

Repairs that took place a shuttle didn’t always occur after a landing. The first time a repair was performed inflight was on July 26, 2005, when the shuttle Discovery was sent on the STS-114 mission. During a spacewalk, Stephen Robinson from the United States, manually pulled out two protruding “gap fillers” that was located between the thermal tiles of the craft’s underbelly.

The First Wheeled Craft

Have you ever seen the photographs of spacecrafts using parachutes during a landing back to Earth? This was the typical method of landing in the past before the space shuttle Columbia became the first spacecraft to land on wheels.

First Spacecraft with a Glass Cockpit

Older consoles found in the cockpit of a space shuttle used mechanical gauges to deliver flight information. The upgrade was glass cockpits that used electronic instruments displays. The first space shuttle to receive the advanced technology was Atlantis, which went into space with the new look in 2000 during STS-100. All three of NASA’s operational shuttles are outfitted with glass cockpits.

Most Reused Spacecraft

Who holds the title for being the most reused spacecraft? Those honors go to the space shuttle Discovery, which completed 38 flights in space. It’s last flight was launched on April 5, 2010 for the flight named STS-131. In the shuttle fleet, Discovery was the third orbiter, which first took to the air in August of 1984.

First Orbital Space Shuttle Mission

John Young was the NASA astronaut who commanded the first orbital space shuttle mission (called STS-1), which lasted 54 ½ hours. The craft in question was called Columbia.

Using the Bathroom in Space

Did you know that the space shuttle is equipped with a toilet that uses foot straps and thigh bars to hold the user in place? Solid waste is stored on board until the shuttle has landed, while liquids are vented into space.