Space Shuttle


Barbara J. Feldman

In its twenty-five-year history, NASA’s Space Shuttle program (officially called Space Transportation System or STS), has flown more than one hundred missions. It has enjoyed extraordinary success (such as the building of the International Space Station, and the servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope) but also suffered devastating failures. Two fatal missions (Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003) left fourteen crew members dead. Space Shuttle missions resumed in 2005 with the successful Discovery “Return to Flight” mission.

  • Howstuffworks: How Space Shuttles Work5 stars

    With animated illustrations explaining each part of the space shuttle, and sidebars summarizing the problems encountered with Columbia and Discovery, Howstuffworks is my pick of the day. It examines the "monumental technology behind America's shuttle program, the mission it was designed to carry out, and the extraordinary efforts that NASA has done to return the shuttle to flight." Best clicks are the interactive graphics that get the reader involved with mousing and clicking.

  • NASA History: Space Shuttle5 stars

    The NASA History site organizes information from various NASA websites into a single archive. Best bets for students are found in General Information (such as the mission timeline) and Specific Missions. It is the later category (near the bottom of the home page) where you'll find a slide show commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first Space Shuttle flight on Apr 12, 1981, and links to mini-sites about the horrible Columbia and Challenger accidents.

  • NASA: Space Shuttles5 stars

    As I write this, STS-115 (Space Shuttle Atlantis) is on its way to the International Space Station. This site is NASA's Space Shuttle portal, and the best place to visit for information on current and recent missions. Clicks you shouldn't miss include Vehicle Structure (an overview of the Space Shuttle's three main components), NASA TV (video clips of recent launches), and NASA podcasts (subscribe to just one or all five).

  • Space.com: Space Shuttle5 stars

    Space.com is an online magazine that combines well-written news articles with pop-culture features such as trivia quizzes ("Name that Shuttle!"), computer wallpaper images, and a discussion board. Visit to research previous missions, or to enjoy the amazing photo galleries. In addition to the Space Shuttle section, Space.com covers the solar system, the night sky, and space-related entertainment such as sci-fi movie reviews. Top 10 Alien Abduction Movies, anyone?

  • Space Today Online: Space Shuttles3 stars

    Written for middle-school students (and their teachers) by educator Anthony R. Curtis, Space Today Online covers Space Shuttles and related topics such as Astronauts, the Space Station, the Solar System, and Deep Space. I like the fun titles, such as "Poke Around Inside a Space Shuttle" and "Surprise! Astronauts Eat in Orbit (and They Sleep There Too!)" The site is a mix of hosted articles and offsite links, so don't be surprised if you start out at Space Today Online, and end up somewhere else.

  • By September 20,2006

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!



    Space Shuttle a Photographic Journey 1981-2011
    Space Shuttle a Photographic Journey 1981-2011
    by Luke Wesley Price
    (Hardcover)
    Price: $26.86

    The Space Shuttle: Celebrating Thirty Years of NASA s First Space Plane
    The Space Shuttle: Celebrating Thirty Years of NASA's First Space Plane
    by Piers Bizony
    (Hardcover)
    - Usually ships in 24 hours
    Price: $22.58

    Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System The First 100 Missions, 3rd Edition
    Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System The First...
    by Dennis R Jenkins
    (Hardcover)
    - Usually ships in 24 hours
    Price: $24.32