The launch of Atlantis last week marked the final mission of NASA's shuttle program. Here are some key moments in space shuttle history:

  • 1977: The flight-worthiness of the orbiter prototype Enterprise is tested by launching the craft from a straddling position atop a modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft, another telling indication of the increased sexual permissiveness of the 1970s
  • 1984: The Discovery sets an all-time high score of 15,330, blasting more than 150 asteroids with its laser cannon during a November mission
  • 1985: Atlantis is outfitted with a CD player instead of a turntable
  • 1992: Acknowledging the nation's shortened attention span, the countdown to launch is truncated to "four, three, two, one"
  • 1994: Only half the Endeavour's crew shows up for its flight, allowing mission specialist David Wolf to stretch out across the empty aisle, middle, and window seats
  • 1995: Space shuttle Atlantis makes its first visit to Russian space station Mir, where the astronauts are forced to choke down powdered vodka shots
  • 1998: In honor of 77-year-old former Mercury program astronaut John Glenn's historic ride aboard the Discovery, the crew pilot lands the space shuttle in a violent free-fall splashdown in the Pacific Ocean
  • 2001: The space shuttle program is renewed for another decade immediately after President Bush watches Space Cowboys