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posted: 7/3/2011 6:00 AM

Milestones in 30-year shuttle program

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  • Astronaut Sally Ride, a specialist on shuttle mission STS-7, monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the shuttle Columbia flight deck. Ride became America's first woman in space when Columbia launched June 18, 1983.

      Astronaut Sally Ride, a specialist on shuttle mission STS-7, monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the shuttle Columbia flight deck. Ride became America's first woman in space when Columbia launched June 18, 1983.
    NASA/1983

  • Members of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident walk past the external tank and solid rocket boosters of a shuttle being fitted in the Vehicle Assembly building at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

      Members of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident walk past the external tank and solid rocket boosters of a shuttle being fitted in the Vehicle Assembly building at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
    Associated Press/1986

 
Associated Press

NASA's space shuttle flights began three decades ago with Columbia and will end this month with the final voyage of Atlantis and the retirement of the fleet. Between, there were triumphs and tragedies. Some of the milestones of the shuttle era:

1981: Columbia makes first shuttle flight for two days.

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1982: Shuttle declared operational, no longer experimental.

1983: Challenger's first flight with first shuttle spacewalk; America's first woman in space, Sally Ride; America's first black astronaut in space, Guion Bluford.

1984: Discovery's first flight, first untethered spacewalk by Bruce McCandless, the so-called "human satellite."

1985: Atlantis' first flight; first congressman in space, Sen. Jake Garn of Utah.

1986: Challenger destroyed after lift-off, seven killed including teacher Christa McAuliffe; shuttles grounded during investigation.

1988: Shuttle flights resume with Discovery.

1989: Launch of Jupiter probe Gallileo.

1990: Launch of Hubble Space Telescope.

1992: First flight of Endeavour, replacement for Challenger.

1993: Hubble repaired by spacewalkers.

1994: First Russian cosmonaut on shuttle.

1995: First female pilot, Eileen Collins; first docking with Russia's Mir space station.

1998: Mercury astronaut John Glenn returns to orbit at 77; first U.S. piece of International Space Station launched.

1999: First female commander, Eileen Collins.

2003: Columbia destroyed during re-entry, seven killed; shuttles grounded during investigation.

2005: Shuttle flights resume with Discovery.

2007: First teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan.

2011: Last flights of Discovery, Endeavour, and soon, Atlantis.

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