21st Century Space Shuttle
Familiar Workhorse Evolves into a Safer, More Capable Spacecraft
is the shuttle's Multifunction Electronic Display Subsystem,
known as the "glass
its familiar shape, the space shuttle has undergone a metamorphosis.
From the inside out, thousands of advances in technology and enhanced
designs have been incorporated into the shuttle since it first launched.
Today's shuttle is a safer, more powerful and more efficient spacecraft.
When the shuttle Atlantis launches this year, it will be the most
up-to-date space shuttle ever. From a new "glass cockpit" to main
engines estimated threefold safer, Atlantis is far different than
when it first flew in 1985.
This year also
will see the 100th space shuttle launch in history, a milestone
for a workhorse that has taken over 600 passengers and 1.36 million
kilograms (3 million pounds) of cargo to orbit. The shuttle fleet
has spent almost 2 ½ years in space. But even the most-traveled
shuttles remain young in the lifetimes for which they were built.
NASA is preparing for the possibility of flying the space shuttle
for at least another decade. Future upgrades will make this American
cornerstone of world space flight even better — toward a goal of
doubling its launch safety by 2005.