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.

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Humans have now occupied the International Space Station for 20 continuous years. What does this international cooperation say about the future of space exploration?

By Wendy Whitman Cobb

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan had a vision for a permanently inhabited space station. Today that vision is a reality we know as the International Space Station.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. & Mark Mancini

Titan is the only moon in the solar system with much of an atmosphere, and the only one known to have liquid rivers, lakes and seas on its surface.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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NASA has built a lightweight robotic helicopter capable of flying in the thin atmosphere of Mars.

By Patrick J. Kiger

And an additional $11,000 will allow you to use the space toilet.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Visionaries have proposed various ways to get into space without using large rockets for propulsion, such as building a space elevator or harnessing magnetic levitation.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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

By Patrick J. Kiger

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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.

By Jonathan Strickland

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?

By Jonathan Strickland

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!

By Laurie L. Dove

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.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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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.

By Holly Frey

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

By Jonathan Strickland

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

By Nicholas Gerbis

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.

By Robert Lamb

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

By Robert Lamb

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?

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

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.

By Ed Grabianowski

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.

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

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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?

By Jonathan Strickland

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?

By Jonathan Strickland

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?

By John Fuller

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.

By Jacob Silverman

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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.

By Tracy V. Wilson

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

By Julia Layton