To fulfill its variety of missions, the versatile space shuttle required crews with diverse skills and abilities, thus opening opportunities for scientists, engineers, women, and people of color to join a demographically diverse astronaut corps. The space shuttle democratized and internationalized human spaceflight. It enabled the growth of new disciplines in microgravity science—biological and physical sciences that explored the fundamental nature of anything in an environment without the dominant influence of gravity. The Space Shuttle made spaceflight seem a more routine, normal part of our nation’s activity. It enabled the United States and its partner nations to make near-Earth orbit a home and workplace. Learn more about the contributions of the shuttle program below.
Learn more about the shuttle program through our Moving Beyond Earth exhibition.
Explore the history of the the space shuttle program and the International Space Station through our archived Lectures.
Each year we host a Space Day promoting science education with fun activities for the whole family.