Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
The Space Shuttle was born on 05 January 1972, when President Nixon announced that NASA would proceed with the development of a reusable Space Shuttle system.
The first shuttle was to be named Constitution, but a massive write-in campaign from fans of the Star Trek television series convinced the White House to change the name to Enterprise. With great fanfare, Enterprise was rolled out on 17 September 1976, and later conducted a successful series of glide-approach and landing tests that were the first real validation of the design. She is now the centerpiece of the new McDonnell Space Hangar at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.
The first operational shuttle was the Columbia, built-in Palmdale, California. It was delivered to Kennedy Space Center on 25 March 1979, and was first launched on 12 April 1981—the 20th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s space flight—with a crew of two.
This weeks launch of Atlantis marks the end of the space shuttle program after 135 missions and the loss of two shuttles during its 30 year life. With no operational manned space vehicle left in the NASA stables, the future and direction of the United States space program is under question…read more here…
Here are a few videos on the history of the shuttle and the last is a unique view of a shuttle launch from a passing airliner.