NP-119 Science in Orbit: The Shuttle & Spacelab Experience, 1981-1986



night view of the space shuttle on the launch pad


[iii] Reviewing the record of the Space Shuttle's first five years in service, one is impressed by the varied program of onboard research in space science and applications. The Shuttle has hosted hundreds of investigations in astronomy, atmospheric science, Earth observations, life sciences, materials science, solar physics, space plasma physics, technology, and other scientific disciplines - investigations developed by scientists around the world. Equipped with the Spacelab elements provided by the European Space Agency, the Shuttle offers both an enclosed laboratory and an exposed platform for investigations in space; crewmembers conduct or monitor the experiments in a manner similar to working in a laboratory on the ground. The Shuttle is a valuable addition to the complement of balloons, aircraft, sounding rockets, and expendable launch vehicles that are already available to space scientists.

Individual news releases and journal articles have reported results of Shuttle-era research on a case-by-case basis, but this report is a comprehensive overview of significant achievements across all the disciplines and missions in the first generation of Shuttle flights.

Although the activities reviewed and summarized in this report precede my tenure as Associate Administrator at NASA, it is a pleasure for me to acknowledge here the dedication and enthusiasm of the many individuals in our government and academic institutions, as well as their many support contractors and international associates, who have made these successes possible. As we return the Shuttle to spaceflight, I look forward not only to the renewed vigor of an active science and applications program using the Shuttle but also to the evolution of space science toward a new research capability - Space Station.


L.A. Fisk
Associate Administrator for
Space Science and Applications
June 1988