From the Space Shuttle's groundbreaking maiden space flight at the start 80's through the heart-break of the Challenger and Columbia disasters to its final touchdown 30 years later, this two-part documentary tells the inside story of NASA's iconic spaceships. Featuring rare archive film and told by the men and women who designed, built and flew them, this series recounts in dramatic detail the Shuttle missions that changed the world. Blasted into orbit by rockets and landing back on earth like an aeroplane, when the Shuttles launched in 1981, they took the world by storm. Flying at 17500 miles an hour, nine times faster than a bullet and built to withstand temperatures twice as hot as larva, they remain one of man's greatest feats of engineering. NASA veterans reveal how they made the world's first reusable spaceship fifty years ago, including the pilots who tested the 68 tonne Shuttles by launching them from the backs of Jumbo jets and the engineers who discovered the best way to glue the revolutionary heatshield in place was with ordinary bathroom sealant. Ten years in the making, NASA hoped the Shuttles would herald a new safe and cost effective era of space travel but their hopes would be dashed. Featuring gripping footage shot inside NASA as Challenger and Columbia as disasters unfolded, the films examine the Shuttles' fatal flaws that claimed the lives of fourteen astronauts. But despite the inherent dangers, the Shuttles made possible some the greatest scientific discoveries of our age. With startling film of the Shuttle launching then repairing the Hubble Space telescope, the series give an insight into the most complex mission NASA had ever attempted that would, ultimately, transform our understanding of the Universe. But there was also another side to famous spaceships. In the late 1960's, the Pentagon ensured the Shuttles would be used to spy their Cold War enemy, the Soviets. When, in the early 1980's President Reagan announced his plans to use the Shuttles for his 'Star Wars' missile defence shield, the Soviets were so terrified, they almost bankrupted themselves trying match NASA's fleet building five Shuttles of their own. In the end NASA's Shuttles became great diplomatic tools, saving the Russian space program from collapse and becoming symbols of global co-operation by creating the $150bn International Space Station. And the story of how the Shuttles built the most expensive and complex machine ever created 200 miles above the earth, brings a dramatic conclusion to the life of the revolutionary spaceship.