This model depicts the reusable Space Shuttle orbiters developed by Rockwell International in the 1970s and 1980s. In the final design, the orbiter was attached to an external tank and two large solid rocket boosters for launch. Only the delta-wing orbiter went into space, and upon reentry it was flown like a glider to a runway landing. The first operational orbiter, Columbia, launched on April 12 1981. It completed 27 missions before disintegrating during re-entry on February 1, 2003, as a result of damage suffered during launch. This model was made by a Smithsonian exhibits specialist for display and then was retained in the collection.