- 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.
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
- 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
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.