Designed between 1969 and 1972 and first flown into space in 1981, the NASA Shuttle will have flown almost 140 missions by the time it is retired in 2010. David Baker describes the origin of the reusable launch vehicle concept during the 1960s, its evolution into a viable flying machine in the early 1970s, and its subsequent design, engineering, construction and operation. The Shuttle's internal layout and systems are explained, including the operation of life support, electrical power production, cooling, propulsion, flight control, communications, land and avionics systems.
Dr. David Baker worked with NASA on the Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programmes between 1965 and 1990. He has written more than 80 books on spaceflight technology and is the author of the Haynes NASA Space Shuttle Manual, International Space Station Manual, NASA Mars Rovers Manual, Apollo 13 Manual, Soyuz Manual, Rocket Manual and forthcoming Hubble Space Telescope Manual. He lives in East Sussex.