33¢ Space Shuttle Program
Celebrate the Century – 1980s
Issue Date: January 12, 2000
City: Kennedy Space Center, FL
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
During the 1970s, NASA scientists and engineers began developing a manned spacecraft that could be reused. The goal was to create a vehicle that was launched like a rocket, but landed like an airplane. This dream came true on April 12, 1981, when the United States launched Columbia, the first space shuttle.
Each shuttle was designed to be used more than 100 times to carry satellites, space probes, and other heavy loads into orbit. Additionally, the space shuttle could retrieve satellites that needed servicing. Sometimes the astronauts repaired the satellites in space, while others were brought back to Earth.
The 25th space shuttle mission ended in great tragedy. On January 28, 1986, seventy-three seconds after liftoff, the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven of its crew members. Manned space flights were postponed until September 1988, when a re-designed space shuttle, the Discovery, was launched.
The reliable record and cost efficiency of the space shuttle program has enabled the world’s space powers to begin plans for an international space station. With the ability to carry up to seven astronauts and 65,000 pounds, space shuttles will provide the regular transportation from Earth to the space station.