Merrillville Community Planetarium
Bringing the Universe to the Merrillville Schools and Northwest Indiana

Space Shuttle

Send Your Face into Space

NASA has created an opportunity for anyone to send a photo of their face, or just their name, into space on one of the last two space shuttle flights.

Summer Launches of NASA

NASA is scheduled to launch the space shuttle Discovery on mission STS-114 on the first shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster on February 1, 2003.
The launch window ranges from July13th to 31st.

Return to Flight

NASA has scheduled the Space Shuttle Discovery as the first space shuttle to return to flight since the Columbia disaster on February 1, 2003. The 12-day mission has been moved to a July 13th to 31st launch window. It was scheduled for launch on May 22, with the launch window extending to June 3rd. Engineers are concerned with potential debris hazards and want to make some additional modifications to the external tank. Ice forming on the outside of the external tank (that holds liquid oxygen at a temperature well below the freezing point of water) may cause damage to the orbiter as it falls off during the launch.


NASA has 142 astronauts, and 46 have never flown in space. Some have recently completed the Astronaut Candidate training program, others have waited for years to be chosen for a mission in space.

The newest astronauts were warned that they may never get a chance to fly aboard a shuttle. The Space Shuttle fleet hasn’t flown in over 2 years (since the Columbia disaster) and the era of the Space Shuttle is expected to end in 5 years. The development of the next-generation of space vehicles could take until 2015. Some of the astronauts may never fly in space.

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