The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system that was operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U. S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space Transportation System (STS), taken from a 1969 plan for a system of reusable spacecraft of which it was the only item funded for development. The first of four orbital test flights occurred in 1981, leading to operational flights beginning in 1982. In addition to the prototype whose completion was cancelled, five complete Shuttle systems were built and used on a total of 135 missions from 1981 to 2011, launched from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Operational missions launched numerous satellites, interplanetary probes, and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST); conducted science experiments in orbit; and participated in construction and servicing of the International Space Station. The Shuttle fleet’s total mission time was 1322 days, 19 hours, 21 minutes and 23 seconds.
The team's findings can also be applied to exoplanets, which are planets that circle stars beyond our own Sun. Some super-Earth exoplanets, which are rocky planets more massive than our own, have been proposed as "water worlds" covered with churning oceans. Could they have life? Perhaps. The potential would certainly be there. Dr. Vance and his team believe laboratory experiments and more sophisticated modeling of exotic oceans might help to find answers to these very profound questions. Titan is certainly an exotic, fascinating, frigid oddball, that bears an eerie resemblance to the primordial Earth before life emerged and evolved on our planet (prebiotic). In fact, Titan is the only moon in our entire Solar System with a substantial atmosphere. It is also the only known world--other than Earth--where stable bodies of surface liquid exist. Until 2004, no spacecraft had visited Saturn for more than twenty years. Pioneer 11 had snapped the very first up close and personal images of Saturn when it traveled past it in 1979, Voyager 1 flew past Saturn about a year later, and in August 1981, Voyager 2 had its own fleeting but very productive close encounter. At last, on July 1, 2004, NASA's Cassini spacecraft went into orbit around Saturn, and started taking very revealing photographs of this bewitching planet and its many lovely and bizarre moons.