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30 years of space shuttle missions: A salute in images

Atlantis emerges through a mountain of smoke after a successful launch from Kennedy Space Center on Nov. 16, 2009. The eleven-day mission featured three space walks and focused on providing new equipment to the International Space Station, including a spare gyroscope NASA
The cover of "Space Shuttle: A Photographic Journey: 1981 - 2011. Hotegg Creative Design / Cover photo: NASA

The shuttle era is over, but graphic artist Luke Wesley Price is determined to keep the memory from fading. A new photography book, written and designed by Price, collects some of "the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring NASA images from the space shuttle’s 30-year service history."

"Space Shuttle: A Photographic Journey, 1981-2011" pays tribute to the five spaceworthy orbiters built by NASA: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. (The Enterprise, currently on display in New York, was a prototype and built only to perform test flights in the atmosphere.)

The book was a four-year labor of love for Price, who became fascinated by the shuttle program after watching a live broadcast of the Challenger explosion as a child in 1986. He intends the book as a salute to the shuttle, which he calls"arguably the most technologically advanced vehicle ever made."

As the sun rises over Florida, a silhouetted Atlantis makes its way from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A in February 2008. The distinctive black shape stands tall and proud as it prepares for a 13-day orbital mission to deliver Europe's Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station. NASA
Astronauts Carl J. Meade and Mark C. Lee (red stripes on spacesuit) work in space while testing the SAFER backpack system (Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue) in September 1994. Astronaut Lee can be seen attached to Discovery's Remote Manipulator System robotic arm. NASA
Astronaut Stephen K. Robinson inspects the shuttle Discovery's thermal protection system and removes gap fillers from its heat shield during a final spacewalk in preparation for the return to Earth in August 2005. NASA
The thin auroral horizon of planet Earth provides the backdrop as Endeavour's aft section is photographed with the payload bay doors open wide in February 2010. NASA
The bay doors of the shuttle Discovery are open wide just after leaving from the International Space Station in April 2010. NASA
Endeavour is seen docked with the International Space Station during its last-ever mission in 2011, in an image taken by Expedition 27 crew member Paolo Nespoli from a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Paolo Nespoli / ESA / NASA
As the sun sets over Edwards Air Force Base in California, astronaauts leave the shuttle Discovery at the end of a 14-day mission to the International Space Station on Sept. 11, 2009. The mission marked the 25th anniversary flight of Discovery since its maiden space voyage in 1984. NASA
After 30 years and 135 shuttle flights in total, the familiar and comforting lights at Kennedy Space Center guide Atlantis and her crew home for the last time on July 21, 2011. It was the 36th shuttle voyage to the International Space Station and the concluding flight of the space shuttle program. NASA
Draped in the Stars and Stripes, Atlantis rests on the runway in July 2011, bringing an end to the space shuttle program. Atlantis is now on display at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA

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