Orbit: NASA’s Space-Shuttle Program Ends

STS-1: Columbia, 1981
Cost: $214 million
Distance traveled: 1,074,000 miles
Orbits: 37
Mission: Ensure safety of the space shuttle in takeoff, orbit and landing
Results: After 10 years of R&D, the shuttle proves that safely returning a crew to Earth is possible.


STS-F1L: Challenger, 1986
Cost: $328 million
Distance traveled: 18 miles
Orbits: 0
Mission: Deploy a communications satellite and a device to measure Halley’s Comet
Results: It explodes 73 seconds after liftoff and kills seven astronauts.

STS-34: Atlantis, 1989
Cost: $499 million
Distance traveled: 1,800,000 miles
Orbits: 79
Mission: Launch an unmanned, Jupiter-bound Galileo probe
Results: The probe completes an eight-year-in-depth study of Jupiter and its moons.

STS-31: Discovery, 1990
Cost: $499 million
Distance traveled: 2,068,213 miles
Orbits: 80
Mission: Launch Hubble Space Telescope into orbit
Results: The Hubble’s 20-year run gives scientists major insights into the age of expansion, age of the universe and the life cycle of stars.

STS-71: Atlantis, 1995
Cost: $407 million
Distance traveled: 4,100,000 miles
Orbits: 153
Mission: Dock to Russia’s Mir space station
Results: The 100th U.S.-manned launch lays groundwork for the International Space Station. Russians and Americans trade spit in space for biomedical research.

STS-107: Columbia, 2003
$1.1 billion
Distance traveled: 6,600,000 miles
Orbits: 255
Mission: Conduct 58 research projects on cancer drugs, building foundations and firefighting
Results: Minutes before its landing, Columbia disintegrates, killing seven astronauts on board