The Space Shuttle: A Horizon Guide

May 5, 2024 | Social, Technology, Videos

The space shuttle Discovery, an iconic landmark in history, is being retired after more than three decades of service. As the longest-serving spacecraft in NASA’s fleet, Discovery has been integral to some of the agency’s most daring and significant achievements. Its flights have spanned a multitude of scientific achievements and technological breakthroughs, as well as missions to bring back essential samples from other planets that will shape our understanding of the universe.

However, it is impossible to talk about the Discovery without mentioning its ties to two devastating tragedies. The first was when Challenger exploded shortly after launch in 1986, claiming the lives of seven astronauts onboard. Then 20 years later Columbia disintegrated during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere over Texas, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

In 2011, Discovery will make its final voyage into space—an occasion that merits reflection about this remarkable spacecraft’s career thus far and a fitting tribute for its final flight. The BBC and Horizon have chronicled every step of Discovery’s journey since it first launched on August 30th 1984 until now—where we stand on the brink of its last voyage ever.

This documentary is more than just an account of one spacecraft’s historic career; it is a story about ambition and determination, courage and resilience, hope for a better future – but also tragedy born out of human error or mechanical failure. Through conversations with engineers who worked on the shuttle design and interviews with former astronauts who flew aboard Discovery, viewers can gain insight into what made this spacecraft so special and why it became an icon for generations to come.

Take this opportunity to witness history as Discovery makes her final voyage – watch this extraordinary BBC Horizon documentary now!

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David B