Spacelab was a reusable laboratory designed for the Space Shuttle. It allowed scientists to perform experiments while orbiting Earth. The laboratory, mounted inside the Space Shuttle’s cargo bay, was used on many missions. Many experiments tested the effects of weightlessness and space on living things. Spacelab missions have included life science experiments involving human astronauts as well as animals taken into space for scientific research. On April 17, 1998, more than 2,000 living creatures joined the seven crew members of the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-90) for a sixteen-day mission called Neurolab. During the mission, twenty – six experiments focused on studies of the nervous system and how it develops and functions in space. Test subjects included crew members as well as rats, mice, crickets, snails, and fish. This was Spacelab’s last scheduled flight.
О A toadfish under observation on STS-90.
On a standard mission, the crew comprises five to seven members. It includes a commander, a pilot, payload specialists, and mission specialists. The specialists could be engineers in charge of a piece of equipment or scientists conducting experiments. On a rescue mission, a Space Shuttle could be flown by three astronauts to bring back all seven crew members from another Space Shuttle that was in trouble.
The Space Shuttle can be used to launch satellites, to repair faulty equipment, to transport supplies and crew to space stations, and to perform experiments in space. Its cargo bay can hold up to five satellites. A satellite that needs to be placed in a high orbit above the Space Shuttle’s maximum operating altitude of 400 miles (640 kilometers) is boosted by a small rocket motor. The cargo bay also can carry a space laboratory, inside which scientists can work comfortably.
The Space Shuttle has performed many significant missions. Scientific experiments performed on board have increased knowledge about space travel, microgravity, and how these affect humans and other living things. Space Shuttles have transported satellites into space, transforming our ability to communicate and broadcast information. The Space Shuttle is used to carry components and crew to the International Space Station. Space Shuttle missions have installed, maintained, rescued, and repaired numerous space facilities,
mostly notably the Hubble Space Telescope, which the Shuttle carried into space in 1990.