With this morning's launch of Atlantis, we are coming to the close of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Here are a few videos that pay tribute to these "space trucks" that few so many miles for so many years.

Enterprise: Landing Test

The prototype shuttle Enterprise conducts an approach and landing test in 1977. Read more about this particular shuttle in a previous post.
*

Columbia: The First Launch

The space shuttle Columbia took off into orbit for the first time on April 12, 1981. It successfully landed two days later at Rogers Lake, the dry lake bed near Edwards Air Force Base. It was the first time a spaceship had ever landed safely on land and in working order. During the Columbia's 28th mission (and the shuttle program's 107th) on February 1, 2003, the shuttle blew apart during re-entry, killing the seven crew members aboard. The investigation into that tragedy would lead to the decision to retire the shuttle program.
*

Challenger: Obviously a Major Malfunction

No one who watched on January 28, 1986 will ever forget where they were and how they felt when the space shuttle Challenger exploded during liftoff. This video is from the CBS Evening News broadcast a few hours later.
*

Endeavour: Completing a Dream

The shuttle named Endeavour was the last to be built, largely from spare parts, as a replacement for the Challenger. It followed Challenger in another way as well: in 2007, Endeavour carried astronaut Barbara Morgan into space. Morgan had been the backup teacher for Christa McAuliffe on the 1986 Challenger flight in which McAuliffe died. Morgan then took over the educational obligations of the Teacher in Space program. In 1998, she joined NASA and trained as a mission specialist, becoming a regular astronaut.
*

Discovery: the Workhorse

The space shuttle Discovery flew 39 successful missions over 27 years. It was instrumental in assembling the International Space Station (ISS) and also took the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.
*

Atlantis: The Final Launch

This morning's launch of Atlantis is the last one ever of the space shuttle program.
*

The Shuttle Through the Decades

A retrospective from NPR.
*

The Space Shuttle

This 80-minute documentary was produced by NASA, narrated by William Shatner.
*