Space Transportation Systems

Space Transportation Systems (STS) are the systems and architectures that deliver payloads and humans to outer space. Learn about space shuttles, rockets and other spacecraft.


Engineers devised a way to levitate and control matter using acoustic waves, and they're sharing their plans with the public.

Who says Mars is just for astronauts? Not Elon Musk. He wants to send you to the red planet for a few hundred grand in a spiffy carbon fiber spacecraft.

According to some predictions, the Tiangong-1 facility is out of the Chinese government’s control. Is a devastating re-entry in the station’s future?

NASA's Spot the Station feature will text or email you when the ISS is about to be overhead. And you won't even need a telescope to see it!

Elon Musk's SpaceX hired a creator of superhero and sci-fi costumes to help design its next-generation astronaut gear. Experts say that's not as weird as it sounds.

Gazing into deep space with a telescope offers mind-blowing imagery, but perhaps even more awe-inspiring is how scientists use telescopes to learn the chemistry of space.

Solar sails may become the go-to technology for transporting cargo in space.

From the beginning, NASA has sought emblematic names for the objects it blasts into space.

Spacecraft are expensive, complex machines that allow us to explore the universe. But what happens when it's time for them to retire? We'll share what it takes to turn a space-worthy craft into a museum-worthy one.

Cars are so 20th century. You need your very own starship (and a quick tutorial on operating it). Before you press a single button on your vessel, read this article. It might even tell you why that pilot's seat is designed for square buttocks.

Plenty of them scare the pants off us, like the space hulks from the Warhammer 40K universe. If we ever glimpse one of these 10 malevolent starships entering the Earth's atmosphere, we will run screaming in the other direction. We promise.

In honor of Douglas Adams and galactic hitchhikers everywhere, we submit this list of 10 spacecraft that we hopelessly pine for. Mindboggingly beautiful!

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan had a vision for a permanently inhabited space station. Today, that vision is a reality: the International Space Station. Learn what it's like to live and work in space.

Driving on Earth is tough enough. What happens when you throw in craters, unexpected solar events and backseat driving from your fellow astronauts while you bump over the moon?

Virgin Galactic is trying to give the average person a chance at playing astronaut for a day -- on SpaceShipTwo, the world's first civilian passenger spaceliner.

The science of rocketry is extremely complex and, at times, dangerous. This collection of images highlights the tech that gets all that science off the ground.

Project Gemini played an important step in NASA's efforts to put a man on the moon. How did the Gemini spacecraft carry two astronauts into space and back safely?

The Apollo program was initiated with the goal of landing a man on the moon. What was the spacecraft that helped make this giant leap for mankind?

Traveling faster than the speed of light, you could go anywhere in minutes -- at least, in the "Star Trek" universe. Is this sci-fi device theoretically possible?

For some reason, a baby monitor in Illinois has been picking up NASA's video broadcast of the space shuttle Atlantis mission. Find out what we think might be happening.

From a distance, a space shuttle looks pretty sturdy. It's enormous and solid, and it can withstand extreme temperatures when it enters the Earth's atmosphere. But in some ways, a space shuttle is delicate.

How did Lockheed win the Orion contract over the manned-space-experts Grumman and Boeing? Check out some of the expert speculation.

But can a commercial spacecraft take off on its own from the ground, travel into outer space and land again on a runway? That's the goal of XCOR Aerospace, and it starts with the EZ-Rocket. In this article, we'll learn about the technology behind the EZ-Rocket and see how XCOR plans to expand on this technology in the future.

It's bigger, stronger, more efficient and more precise: The Delta IV Heavy is arguably the greatest rocket built to date. It can put 13 tons of satellite payload into its intended orbit with fuel to spare, and that's just the beginning.

What is a solar sail? How can you use sunlight to move a spacecraft in outer space? In this article, HowStuffWorks will show you how solar sail technology works, take an in-depth look at the Cosmos-1 mission and find out what solar-sails mean for future space travel.