This year will see the retirement of the Space Shuttle. The shuttle Endeavour
is scheduled to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center on April 1 for the program's final official mission, STS-134
. Even if NASA decides to add one more flight--STS-135, which is currently caught in fiscal limbo
--2011 will cap off 30 years of the Shuttle program, which began with STS-1
and the liftoff of space shuttle Columbia
on April 12, 1981. It's been quite a ride.