Great Space Shuttle Pictures

Say what you want about the space shuttle program, but one thing is for certain: the shuttle is very photogenic. This very nifty image was taken by a chase plane looking down as a Boeing 747 airplane ferried Space Shuttle Endeavour from California to Florida on Dec. 10, 2008, and is today’s NASA picture of the day. The backdrop is the Mojave Desert in California. This image got me looking for other interesting pictures of the space shuttle, and so I’ve compiled a few here.
Interesting Update: Just after posting this, I came across a news release from NASA that they are soliciting ideas for displaying the space shuttles after they are retired!

Space shuttle on approach to ISS.  Credit: NASA
Space shuttle on approach to ISS. Credit: NASA

Here Space Shuttle Discovery is approaching the International Space Station in February 2003 during the pitch maneuver that allows the station crew to photograph the entire shuttle to look for any possible damage from launch debris. Breathtaking!

Space Shuttle's tail and Earth's limb.  Credit: NASA
Space Shuttle's tail and Earth's limb. Credit: NASA

This unique image is of the space shuttle’s tail with the limb of Earth’s atmosphere in the background.
Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983.  Credit:  NASA.
Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983. Credit: NASA.

Space Shuttle Challenger taken with a 70mm camera onboard a satellite that the shuttle brought up to space. It was taken in 1983, and so is from one of the early shuttle flights. NASA has since abandoned having their cameras put crosshairs on their images, which makes them less scienc-y and more just, wow.

Space Shuttle sonic boom.
Space Shuttle sonic boom.

I found this image in several places around the web, but I don’t know who actually took the image. Anyone have a clue who to credit for this image? Its the space shuttle just as its is going through the sound barrier.
Endeavour landing.  Credit: NASA
Endeavour landing. Credit: NASA

This is a beautiful night landing of Space Shuttle Endeavour, and its one of my favorite shuttle images. If anyone has any more favorite shuttle images, feel free to post the links!

17 Replies to “Great Space Shuttle Pictures”

  1. The space shuttles are very photogenic, and I think that is what I will miss most about them. It was the first spaceship that actually looked like a spaceship.
    The systems that will have the range and power to allow more exploration are simply ugly. The unfortunate fact being that beautiful appearances come with steep engineering costs.

    I do wonder tho if the fly-return booster idea was ever feasible. Then maybe private industry can build a shuttle in the near future that would fulfill the original promises of cheap* and regular** spaceflight.

    *Cheap meaning actually affordable to the common man.
    **Regular meaning daily or weekly trips.

  2. I think all surviving shuttles should be kept, one in a museum like the Smithsonian in Washington DC, one at Houston and One at Cape Canaveral. Any better Suggestions? Good Luck and Good Management.

  3. I would LOVE to see one Stationed at the Museum of Flight near Boeing Field in Seattle.

    What would be freaking Cool is to place one in Orbit around the planet as a Museum Destination for Space Tourists. How cool to TOUR the Space Shuttle IN SPACE!

  4. NASA could give me a shuttle. Ide love to turn it into a house and live in it. How cool would that be. Would be easy for the pizza boy to find my house 🙂

  5. Cool images,

    But I do hope that NASA destroy these, and we shall not be reminded that the United States space exploration ground to halt for 30 years, unless of course you want to display them in a musem and label them High Atltuide Flyers used for 30 years instead of really going to space.

  6. Silverthread — using a shuttle as an orbital museum for space tourists is a WONDERFUL idea! Even better, a “wing” could be added on in the form of the Hubble space telescope, so that people could examine it close up, and see where those glorious Hubble Heritage photos came from. Eventually it could become part of an orbital space hotel complex, where tourists could debark, have luxury accommodations, and tour the sights, such as one of the shuttles, Hubble, etc. After all that investment, it would be criminal to burn it all up in the atmosphere, you know?

  7. If by ‘United States space exploration’ you mean continued manned flight to the Moon and elsewhere, there is no reason to believe that it would be signifigantly different, had the shuttle never been developed.

    Remember (not old enoug to? I am.), Apollo was terminated with the hardware to do three more Lunar missions already built and paid for, (One of those Saturn 5s launched Skylab, the other two became lawn ornaments. I’ve been to the one at JSC.)

    In that environment in 1972, you would NOT have gotten support for any other signifigant maned program, and whatever you did get would still be only Earth orbital. Maybe, maybe not with a small space station of some kind. Even the shuttle we got, wasn’t the shuttle NASA really wanted. But as today, the agency can only work with the budget and policy its given.

    Yes, I believe we should be doing better by now, but I blame the national will at the time (and since), not the hardware we created instead. Nowhere is it written that we could not have done both. Indeed, I do NOT believe we can have sustainable human deep-space exploration WITHOUT also having regular access to LEO on some sort of RLV.

    And in truth, we still don’t have that.

  8. The shuttle vapor cone photo is actually not related to breaking the sound barrier (or sonic boom). It’s actually the Prandtl-Glauert condensation effect. Prandtl-Glauert condensation clouds can also occur at lower speeds, and are not really a visible manifestation of some kind of a sound barrier being broken.

    Truly great photos, however.

  9. The fifth picture shows a shock wave from condensation of the water vapor in the atmosphere. This can take place at speeds well below the supersonic range, and is dependent upon ambient temperature, air pressure, and relative humidity.

    Still a cool picture, though.

  10. O.K. how’s this for a retired shuttle. Attach it to the 747 and fly it around the country and sell tickets to fly aboard a real live spacecraft just like the astronauts.

  11. iam deaf man i use wach nasa tv on my commper i was thik is hard way find out if i mind understanding that if space shullte retire or return that is up to nasa thik if you want make biger gants space shullte new like 747 space on this one call jombo biger shuttle more power full rocket push harder in speed up space if you want put more asrount more people on space station that up to nasa get idea future or new x-13 future that up to u.s goverment and nasa officer idea

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