DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Space Shuttle Challenger, computer artwork. Two satellites are being deployed from its payload bay. Space Shuttles, flown by NASA since 1981, are reusable spacecraft launched with an external fuel tank and two booster rockets (not seen). An ascent to orbit takes about 9 minutes. After deploying its cargo, the Shuttle's wings are used to glide back to Earth after it has re-entered the atmosphere. Challenger exploded on its tenth launch in 1986.
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