History | 21 February 2017Space Shuttle Discovery Share article facebook twitter google pinterest The Space Shuttle came into being in the 1970s as the answer to two questions: “What should the United States do in space after sending men to the Moon?” and “How can the United States continue putting people in space at a lower cost than the Moon missions?” With no national appetite for an expensive grand venture—a space station or a mission to Mars—a fragile consensus settled on a new space transportation system, a shuttle for intermittent missions around Earth, that was supposed to reduce the cost of spaceflight. If it proved successful, it might later pave the way to a space station or to deep-space expeditions. Twice Discovery stood poised on the launch pad to take American astronauts into orbit after a long pause in the Space Shuttle program. With the loss of Challenger during its tenth launch in 1986 and Columbia during its twenty-fifth reentry in 2003, Discovery became the return-to-flight vehicle. In fact, it bore that responsibility three times; the first two post-Columbia missions, both on Discovery, were test flights to validate remedies for the causes of that fatal accident. Executing their missions flawlessly, three Discovery crews and their spacecraft restored confidence, albeit chastened, in the Space Shuttle program. Milestones of Space takes a close look at the history and legacy of the space shuttle Discovery. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: A beautifully illustrated history of the exploration of space through the most iconic objects from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Throughout the whole of human history, across all of Earth’s cultures and landscapes, countless individuals have gazed up at the stars with wonder and awe. Getting to space was no easy task, and our curiosity with the surrounding universe has long been a source of earthly pride and competition. At the bottom of this international technology driven rivalry lies one unifying purpose, which is to understand the impossibly vast heavens. In Milestones of Space, Michael Neufeld and select curators of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum present a gorgeous photographic celebration of some of the most groundbreaking artifacts that played key parts in giving humanity its first steps into the cosmos. Focusing on the most iconic objects and technology – such as Friendship, the Lunar Module, Neil Armstrong’s Lunar Suit, the Hubble Space Telescope, and Space Shuttle Discovery – this book extensively profiles eleven of the NASM’s most important breakthroughs in space technology. The NASM curators feature each object in incredible detail with compelling timelines, sidebars and captions, and over 150 archival images that provide new and little-known insights into their development and historical context. We are still a long way from grasping our universe . . . but for now, Milestones of Space magnificently commemorates the individuals and inventions that have taken us this far. Michael J. Neufeld is a museum curator in the space history division of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum. He was educated at the University of Calgary and Johns Hopkins University, where he received his doctorate in history. He is the author of The Rocket and the Reich (The Free Press, 1995), Von Braun: Dreamer of Space and Engineer of War (Random House, 2007). Valerie Neal is curator for human spaceflight in the Space Shuttle and International Space Station era at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Before joining the Smithsonian, she worked with NASA on early shuttle missions. She now curates exhibitions at the NASM and oversees more than 1,500 artifacts, principal among them the orbiter Discovery, which is housed in the NASM’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in northern Virginia. She lives in Washington, D.C. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.