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The space shuttle’s cargo bay is more than just a shipping container. It’s also a workspace for spacewalkers. (NASA)

The Truck

Satellites, experiments, space station parts - the space shuttle hauled it all.

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Three of NASA’s four Great Observatories rode to orbit in the space shuttle. The Hubble Space Telescope went up in April 1990, followed by the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory in April 1991, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory in July 1999. (The fourth, the Spitzer Space Telescope, went up in 2003 on a Delta rocket.) Chandra was the heaviest of the four at 43,000 pounds, which included a 30,000-pound double upper stage.

    Shuttle Primary Payloads
  • Aerodynamic Coefficient Identification Package
  • Office of Space and Terrestrial Applications Experiment
  • Plant Lignification Experiment
  • Electrophoresis Verification Test
  • Monodisperse Latex Reactor
  • German Shuttle Pallet Satellite
  • INSAT
  • Spacelab
  • Westar
  • Palapa-B
  • Magnum Satellite (DOD)
  • Long-Duration Exposure Facility
  • Satellite Business Systems
  • Earth Radiation Budget Satellite
  • Telesat
  • Telstar 3
  • Arabsat
  • American Satellite Company
  • AUSSAT
  • Morelos
  • Satcom Ku
  • Defense Satellite Communications System (DOD)
  • Tracking and Data Relay Satellites
  • Lacrosse 1 Reconnaissance Satellite (DOD)
  • Magellan
  • Satellite Data System (DOD)
  • Galileo
  • Magnum Reconnaissance Satellite (DOD)
  • Syncom IV
  • Misty Reconnaissance Satellite (DOD)
  • Hubble Space Telescope
  • Ulysses
  • Ultraviolet Astronomy Telescope
  • Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory
  • Infrared Background Signature Survey
  • Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite
  • Defense Support Program Satellite
  • International Microgravity Laboratory
  • Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science
  • U.S. Microgravity Laboratory
  • Tethered Satellite System
  • Laser Geodynamic Satellite
  • Advanced Communications Technology Satellite
  • Wake Shield Facility
  • Space Radar Laboratory
  • Lidar In-Space Technology Experiment
  • KidSat
  • Shuttle Pointed Research Tool for Astronomy
  • Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the Atmosphere
  • Neurolab
  • Chandra X-Ray Observatory
  • Shuttle Radar Topography Mission
  • Space Experiment Module 8
  • Space Station
  • Solar Arrays
  • Mobile Base System
  • Starboard-zero Central Integrated Truss Structure
  • Joint Airlock and High-Pressure Gas Tanks
  • Space Station Remote Manipulator System (Canadarm 2)
  • Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Raffaello
  • Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo
  • U.S. Laboratory Destiny
  • Pressurized Mating Adapter n Z1 Truss
  • SPACEHAB
  • U.S. Node Unity
  • U.S. Node Harmony
  • European Laboratory Columbus
  • Dextre Robotics System
  • Japanese Kibo Logistics Module
  • Japanese Remote Manipulator System
  • Kibo Pressurized Module
  • Port Truss Structures
  • Starboard Truss Structures
  • Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module Exposed Section
  • Kibo Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility
  • Light-weight
  • Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier
  • EXPRESS Logistics Carrier
  • Cupola
  • U.S. Node Tranquility
  • Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
  • Russian Mini- Research Module Rassvet

Paul Hoversten is the executive editor of Air & Space/Smithsonian.

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