Final Farewell to Space Shuttle Program

Space shuttle Atlantis lands for the final time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Today’s landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis marks the end of NASA’s shuttle program that started with the first launch in 1981. Tens of thousands of workers, including IAM members, played key roles in building, launching and maintaining the shuttle fleet. In all, the shuttles logged more than 130 flights, completed more than 20,000 earth orbits and carried more than 800 men and women and thousands of tons of cargo and satellites into space. And, the entire nation mourned the loss of two orbiters and their crews in tragic accidents.

Overall, the shuttle program helped America pioneer many techniques for space flight that will be used for decades to come. “America’s space program workers and astronauts deserve our nation’s gratitude for their dedication which made the shuttle program one of the most successful space flight programs in history,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Part of our debt to those workers should be a clear, well-funded path to a future NASA manned space flight program that employs the talents and skills of today’s workers. The shuttles earned a place in the nation’s museums, but the tens of thousands of space program workers deserve a secure future as partners in a renewed NASA space program.”

Click here to learn more about the shuttle program and its many accomplishments.