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space shuttle

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noun (often initial capital letters)
  1. any of several U.S. space vehicles consisting of a reusable manned orbiter that touches down on a landing strip after an orbital mission, two reusable solid rocket boosters that drop off after initial ascent, and an expendable external tank containing liquid propellants.
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Origin of space shuttle

An Americanism dating back to 1965–70
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for space shuttle

space shuttle

noun
  1. any of a series of reusable US space vehicles (Columbia (exploded 2003), Challenger (exploded 1986), Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour) that can be launched into earth orbit transporting astronauts and equipment for a period of observation, research, etc, before re-entry and an unpowered landing on a runway; the first operational flight occurred in 1981 and it was taken out of service in 2011
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

space shuttle in Culture

space shuttle

A vehicle built by NASA that is capable of taking off from Earth, carrying a crew and a cargo into space, and returning to Earth to be used again. It is used primarily to transport a crew to an orbiting space station and to deploy and retrieve satellites.

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Note

The space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff in 1986. All seven crew members died in the accident.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.