Space Shuttle flight deck, 1980s.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
An astronaut working on the flight deck of the Space Shuttle. The flight deck and the living quarters are the only presurised, but still weightles, part of the craft. The Space Shuttle, the world's first partially reusable launch vehicle, first flew on 12th April 1981 and has been used for all America's manned space misions ever since. It normally carries a crew of between 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.