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Marshall’s Role in Space Shuttle

    Reusable solid rocket motor testing Reusable solid rocket motor. (NASA)

    Space shuttle main engine Space shuttle main engine. (NASA)

    Space shuttle main engine testing at Stennis Space shuttle main engine testing at Stennis. (NASA)
    The space shuttle is part of the American identity and its legacy part of our experience for three decades. The end of the shuttle program paves the way for NASA to transition to the next generation of space vehicles, and the Marshall Center is laying the groundwork for NASA's exploration missions to travel beyond our orbit to other worlds. Marshall is planning the design and development of the next generation of space vehicles, developing a Space Launch System and Multipurpose Crew Vehicle to travel to low Earth orbit and beyond, including near-Earth objects, the moon, Lagrange points and Mars.

    For three decades and 135 missions, the space shuttle carried cargo and crew into orbit. Shuttle flights have been home to unique microgravity research through the Spacelab missions, launched scientific spacecraft such as giant telescopes that are exploring the universe and hosted more than 2,000 experiments in the fields of Earth, astronomy, biological and materials sciences. Shuttle flights made it possible to complete construction of the International Space Station..

    The space station will continue to serve as an international research platform to advance exploration and science; sustain human presence in space; prepare for future space exploration missions to the moon and beyond; and preserve America's leadership role in space among the nations of the world

    NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center was responsible for the manufacture, assembly and operation of the primary propulsion elements on one of the most complex machines ever built, the space shuttle. These propulsion elements -- the main engines, the external tank and the twin solid rocket boosters that hold the reusable solid rocket motors -- launched and accelerated the orbiter to a velocity of 17,500 mph -- 25 times faster than the speed of sound. For each shuttle mission, Marshall provided and managed these propulsion systems for the space shuttle's 8.5 minute flight into orbit.

Shuttle Retrospective

  • An exhaust plume surrounds the mobile launcher platform on Launch Pad 39A as space shuttle Atlantis lifts off on the STS-132 mission.

    Space Shuttle Retrospective

    Quotes and reflections from those who have supported the space shuttle program at the Marshall Center.

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Related NASA Sites

  • Mission STS-122 Begins

    Space Shuttle

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  • Space Shuttle Discovery

    Space Shuttle Propulsion Office

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  • Space Shuttle Endeavour

    Space Shuttle Vehicle Structure

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  • This rendering depicts a concept for a new Research and Development Administration Building to be constructed at the Michoud Assembly Facility.

    Michoud Assembly Facility

    Michoud Assembly Facility, managed by Marshall, manufactures and assembles large aerospace systems and structures supporting NASA programs and projects.

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