The space shuttle.
The 1980’s were an important time for space exploration in America. The 1980’s saw the creation of the first ever reusable crewed spacecraft, the space shuttle (Nasa, 2013). Previously the focus had been on many different space flight programs but in the 1980’s the Kennedy Space Centre shifted its focus to the creation of the first space shuttle. This shuttle was called Columbia (STS-1) and it was first launched on April 21st 1981 which became an iconic moment for America and a big morale booster for the American nation (Heiney, 2012).
As well as this, in 1983 Sally Ride became the first American women in space, and also in 1983 the first African-American astronaut, Guion Bluford was also sent into space (Heiney, 2012).
The launch of Columbia also had an impact on pop culture, with the first launch of Columbia inspiring the Canadian rock band Rush to create a song based on the event. Also MTV started its first ever broadcast on August 1st 1981 with a clip of Columbia’s first launch (Heiney, 2012).
However space exploration in the 80’s wasn't all positive as in 1986 on the 1st January, 73 seconds after its launch the space shuttle Challenger failed and resulted in a fireball that killed the whole crew (Moskowitz, 2001). This showed the American nation that despite its progression in space flight, tragedies like this were still possible.
This image is iconic of the 1980’s as it marked a huge leap forward in space exploration, and it also represents the impacts America have had on science. The invention of the space shuttle led to the creation of the space station, and the space shuttle also launched the Hubble space telescope, which has greatly impacted our understanding of cosmology (Howell, 2013). Furthermore, the space shuttle led to inter country cooperation that was not previously expected, such as the fact that the space shuttle led to many countries being able to put their first citizens into space. Such as, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Spain. Also the space shuttle led to cooperation between America and Russia as they now often exchange astronauts to fly each other’s missions. As well as this, the oldest person to enter space and the first American of Jewish decent entered space in the space shuttle (Moskowitz, 2001).
Therefore, the space shuttle represents the scientific progression that America has undergone, as well as the impact America has had on the world as a whole due to its scientific breakthrough’s.
Heiney, A., 2012. 1980’s All Eyes Focus on Space Shuttle. [Online] Available at: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/about/history/timeline/80s-decade.html [Accessed 12th January 2016]
Howell, E., 2013. Columbia: First Shuttle in Space. [Online] Available at: http://www.space.com/18008-space-shuttle-columbia.html [Accessed 12th January 2016]
Moskowitz, C., 2001. Space Shuttle’s Lasting Legacy: 30 Years of Historic Facts. [Online] Available at: http://www.space.com/11320-space-shuttle-impact-history-anniversary.html [Accessed 12th January 2016]
Nasa, 2013. First Shuttle Launch. [Online] Available at: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_2488.html[Accessed 12th January 2016]