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NASA Facts NASA's Orbiter Fleet

NASA Facts NASA's Orbiter Fleet

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Published by Bob Andrepont
NASA Facts booklet on the Space Shuttles
NASA Facts booklet on the Space Shuttles

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Jan 05, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/17/2012

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National Aeronautics andSpace Administration
John F. Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32899
NASA's Orbiter Fleet
FS-2003-08-005-KSC
DiscoveryAtlantisEndeavour
 
The orbiter Discovery touches down Aug. 22, 2001, at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility to conclude the12-day STS-105 mission to the International Space Station. The mission was Discovery's 30th flight.
Discovery
Discovery (OV-103), the third of NASA’sfleet of reusable, winged spaceships, arrived atKennedy Space Center in November 1983. It waslaunched on its first mission, flight 41-D, onAug. 30, 1984, and carried aloft three communica-tions satellites for deployment by its astronaut crew.Other Discovery milestones include thedeployment of the Hubble Space Telescope onmission STS-31 in April 1990 as well as the firstHubble Servicing mission STS-82 in February1997; the launching of the Ulysses spacecraft toexplore the Sun’s polar regions on mission STS-41 in October 1990; the deployment of the UpperAtmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) in Sep-tember 1991; and the second flight to the Interna-tional Space Station on mission STS-96 in May1999.Discovery is named for two famous sailingships: one sailed by Henry Hudson in 1610-11 toexplore Hudson Bay in Canada as well as searchfor a northwest passage between the Atlantic andPacific Oceans, and the other by James Cook inthe 1770s on voyages in the South Pacific duringwhich he discovered the Hawaiian Islands. TheBritish Royal Geographical Society used twoships named Discovery: one to explore the NorthPole in 1875 and one to explore the Antarctic in1904.
Original Fleet
NASA's fleet of orbiters originally comprisedfive ships: Challenger, OV-099; Columbia, OV-102; Discovery, OV-103; Atlantis, OV-104; andEndeavour, OV-105. Challenger was lost duringlaunch in January 1986. Columbia, the flagshipof the fleet, was lost in February 2003.The first of NASA’s orbiter fleet, Columbia(OV-102) was delivered to Kennedy SpaceCenter in March 1979. Columbia initiated theSpace Shuttle flight program April 12, 1981,when it lifted off Pad A in the Launch Complex39 area at KSC. It proved the operational conceptof a winged, reusable spaceship by successfullycompleting the Orbital Flight Test Program,missions STS-1 to STS-4.Columbia was destroyed over east Texas onits landing descent to Kennedy Space Center onFeb. 1, 2003, at 8:59 a.m. EST at the conclusionof a microgravity research mission, STS-107.Columbia was named after a Boston-basedsloop that operated out of Boston in 1792 andexplored the mouth of the Columbia River on theWest Coast of North America. The same ship wasthe first American vessel to circumnavigate theglobe. The first U.S. Navy ship to circle the globewas named Columbia. And the commandmodule for the Apollo 11 lunar mission was alsonamed Columbia.
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Atlantis
The fourth orbiter, Atlantis (OV-104) wasdelivered to Kennedy Space Center in April1985. It lifted off on its maiden voyage on Oct.3, 1985, on mission 51-J, the second dedicatedDepartment of Defense flight. Later missionsincluded the launch of the Galileo interplanetaryprobe to Jupiter on STS-34 in October 1989, andlaunch of the Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO)on STS-37 in April 1991. Others were STS-71and STS-74, the first and second MIR dockings;and five SPACEHAB missions from March 1996through September 1997.Atlantis is named after a two-masted, 460-tonketch that was operated for the Woods HoleOceanographic Institute from 1930 to 1966. Theketch was the first U.S. vessel to be used foroceanographic research.
In the Vehicle Assembly Building, the orbiter Atlantis islowered into position for mating to its external tank/solidrocket booster stack for launch on mission STS-104 July12, 2001.
Endeavour
Authorization to construct the fifth SpaceShuttle was granted by Congress on Aug. 1,1987. Endeavour (OV-105) first arrived atKSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility May 7, 1991,atop NASA’s new Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (NASA911). The space agency’s newest orbiter beganflight operations in 1992. Significant missionsincluded the first SPACEHAB mission, STS-47,in June 1993; the first manned flight to theInternational Space Station, STS-88, in December1998, carrying the Unity connecting module; andthe Shuttle Radar Topography mission, STS-99,in February 2000.Endeavour is named after the first shipcommanded by 18th century British explorerJames Cook. On its maiden voyage in 1788,Cook sailed into the South Pacific and aroundTahiti to observe the passage of Venus betweenthe Earth and the Sun. During another leg of the journey, Cook discovered New Zealand, sur-veyed Australia and navigated the Great BarrierReef. A national competition in public schoolsproduced the name of this fifth orbiter.
Orbiter Upgrades
When built, Endeavour featured new hard-ware designed to improve and expand orbitercapabilities. Most of this equipment was laterincorporated into the other three orbiters duringout-of-service major inspection and modificationprograms. The upgrades include:
Endeavour lands Dec. 7, 2002, at KSC's Shuttle LandingFacility after the 14-day mission STS-113 to theInternational Space Station.
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