Series 1 Episode 1
First Broadcast: 7.30PM Sat 23 July 2011

For the three decades since its first launch in 1981, the shuttle has become an iconic symbol of America's technological dominance and has rewritten the rules of space travel.

It's a reusable vehicle that could lift off like a rocket, carry people and cargo into Earth's orbit, then land on a runway like a plane, and do it time after time.

But two disasters, in 1986 and 2003, and the tragic loss of 14 astronauts shocked the World, and signalled the end of the programme and of an era.

However, its legacy has been extraordinary. In 30 years of service, the shuttle has flown more miles, completed more missions and put more men and women in orbit than any other spacecraft in history.

It has transformed our understanding of the universe, aided technological advancement, and enabled us to study the environmental consequences we have had on our planet.

After July 2011, when the shuttle takes its last flight, the USA will no longer be able to put a man in space, for the first time in over half a century.

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The Space Shuttle's Last Flight on Channel4.com

See more about The Space Shuttle's Last Flight

As Atlantis completes its 135th and final mission, this definitive documentary charts the legacy and tragedies of the most ambitious space programme ever undertaken - the space shuttle