National Space Day is a holiday that is observed annually on the first Friday of May to celebrate the extraordinary achievements, benefits and opportunities granted by the exploration and use of space. National Space Day was originally created in 1997 by the Lockheed Martin Corporation as a one day event but in 2001 former astronaut and Senator John Glenn expanded Space Day to International Space Day.
In observation of this holiday, we mapped the locations of NASA’s space shuttle launch sites to honor the Shuttle’s historic missions, the people it flew into space, and its achievements. According to NASA, its space shuttles have been rocketing from the Florida coast into Earth’s orbit since 1981 and the five orbiters — Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour — have flown more than 130 times, carrying over 350 people into space and travelling more than half a billion miles, more than enough to reach Jupiter. The shuttle was designed to return to Earth and land like a giant glider, and was the world’s first reusable space vehicle.
“It all started with STS-1, launched on April 12, 1981, just twenty years to the day after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. When astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen launched that morning in Columbia, it was the first time in history a new spacecraft was launched on its maiden voyage with a crew aboard… For an entire generation, the space shuttle was NASA” (NASA). Since its first launch, NASA’s shuttle program has expanded the limits of human achievement, while fundamentally challenging and broadening our understanding of the world. Below is a chart that provides details of NASA’s five launch sites found on the map. Happy National Space Day!
Written by Kathleen Emerson 5/3/2016