space shuttle

noun (often initial capital letters)
any of several U.S. space vehicles consisting of a reusable manned orbiter that touches down on a landing strip after an orbital mission, two reusable solid rocket boosters that drop off after initial ascent, and an expendable external tank containing liquid propellants.

Origin:
1965–70, Americanism

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World English Dictionary
space shuttle
 
n
any of a series of reusable US space vehicles (Columbia (exploded 2003), Challenger (exploded 1986), Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour) that can be launched into earth orbit transporting astronauts and equipment for a period of observation, research, etc, before re-entry and an unpowered landing on a runway; the first operational flight occurred in 1982

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Cultural Dictionary

space shuttle definition


A vehicle built by NASA that is capable of taking off from Earth, carrying a crew and a cargo into space, and returning to Earth to be used again. It is used primarily to transport a crew to an orbiting space station and to deploy and retrieve satellites.

Note: The space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff in 1986. All seven crew members died in the accident.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Humans are the reason the space shuttle needs toilets.
These scanners are usually used to inspect the space shuttle's solid fuel
  rockets.
If you see the space shuttle crashing, you can see that these guys in the white
  coats don't always get it right.
The potential successor to the space shuttle gets ready to fly.
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