The Birth of the shuttle is a story of big dreams facing slashed budgets, of shifting visions, of NASA and the US's attempt to find their way in space after beating the Soviets to the moon in 1969. Here is a piece of that history.

At the very beginning: The Silbervogel.
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The idea had its roots in the late 1930s, when the third Reich (Nazi Germany) initiated the "Amerika Bomber" project, which was an effort to build an aircraft capable of taking off from Germany and dropping a bomb on the continental United States.
Various engineers, including a man named Eugen Sanger, submitted proposals. his idea, developed with the mathematician Irene Bredt, was a type of winged rocket called the Silbervogel (German for "silver bird").
The reusable Silbervogel would ascend to suborbital space, then drop down into the stratosphere. At that point, the increasing air density would give the vehicle lift, bouncing it to a higher altitude again. The process would repeat, with the Silbervogel making the trip across the Atlantic in a series of leaps and bounds.
The Nazis didn't end up building the Silbervogel, or any other Amerika Bomber proposal. But the Silbervogel concept found its way into American hands at the end of World War II, when the United States brought over many German scientists in a mission known as Operation Paperclip.The Bureau of Aeronautics in the Navy got very excited about these ideas and started to pursue them.

US’s space planes:
The mentioned studies soon turned into bona fide vehicle development programs, with the U.S. miltary, NACA and NASA (which was later established in 1958) all taking part. The X-15 rocket plane was one result. This vehicle made nearly 200 test flights from 1959 to 1968. It reached outer space, which officially begins at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers), on several occasions. And the X-15 still holds the world record for fastest manned rocket-powered aircraft, reaching a top speed of 4,520 mph (7,274 kph) during one 1967 test flight. Around the same time, the U.S. Air Force was working on the X-20 space plane, known as the Dyna-Soar. This vehicle, similar to today's space shuttle in design, was slated to be used for a variety of purposes, including reconnaissance and satellite maintenance. The Dyna-Soar was almost built, but not quite. The program was cancelled in 1963, after construction had already begun.Development of the X-20 and the Dyna-Soar, along with other vehicles such as the HL-10, helped lay the foundation for the space shuttle program shortly thereafter.

After Apollo, Into the space:

Near the end of the Apoll space program, which aimed at sending men onto the moon and returning them back, NASA officials were looking at the future of the American space program. They were using one-shot, disposable rockets. What they needed was a reliable, less expensive rocket, and was most importantly reusable. Therefore the idea of a rocket that could look like a plane and could be reused easily seemed appealing. So, Knowing the previous idea of the silbervogel, NASA began design, cost and engineering studies on a space shuttle and many aerospace companies also explored the concepts.
In 1972, President Nixon announced that NASA would develop a reusable space shuttle or space transpo
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rtation system (STS). NASA decided that the shuttle would consist of an orbiter attached to solid rocket boosters and an external fuel tank because this design was considered safer and more cost effective.
At that time, spacecraft used ablative heat shields that would burn away as the spacecraft re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. However, to be reusable, a different strategy would have to be used. The designers of the space shuttle came up with an idea to cover the space shuttle with many insulating ceramic tiles that could absorb the heat of re-entry without harming the astronauts.
Knowing that the shuttle was to fly like a plane, more like a glider, when it landed. A working orbiter was built to test the aerodynamic design, but not to go into outer space. The orbiter was called the Enterprise after the "Star Trek" starship. The Enterprise flew numerous flight and landing tests, where it was launched from a Boeing 747 and glided to a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Finally, The first flight was in 1981 with the space shuttle Columbia, piloted by astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen. Columbia performed well and the other shuttles soon made several successful flights.

Important incidents in the Shuttle history:
The Challenger & Columbia Disasters:

Components of the Shuttle:
Explained in these pictures:_

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Data collected & Page Designed By\
Ahmed Mohamed Kabil



Resources:
http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/space/stories/a-brief-history-of-the-space-shuttle
http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/the_shuttle/
http://science.howstuffworks.com/space-shuttle10.htm
http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/space/lectures/lec23.html
http://www.century-of-flight.net/Aviation%20history/space/Space%20Shuttle%20history.htm
http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight/system/system_STS.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle#Shuttle_disasters