Space Shuttle firing its forward thrusters, 1980s.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
The view from the forward flight deck windows as the forward thrusters are fired. The craft has 44 mini thrusters which fine tune its orbit position. The Space Shuttle, the world's first partially reusable launch vehicle, first flew on 12 April 1981 and has been used for all America's manned space misions ever since. It normally carries a crew of five to seven astronauts and can lift a payload of some 25,000 kilograms into low Earth orbit. The Orbiter and the solid fuel boosters are recovered and reused.