Space: no longer the final frontier. Since 1961 when the former Soviet Union's Vostok 1 first transcended Earth's atmosphere into space, humankind has feverishly pursued the limits of extraterrestrial travel. Although by now NASA has retired its three-shuttle-fleet, including the famed Atlantis, space explorers have a rich history of suiting up and blasting off. More than 600 crew members and 3 million pounds of cargo have carved their way into territory once thought to be off-limits to humans. That's not to say there haven't been tragedies along the way, however: The Challenger exploded only minutes after launching, the Columbia disintegrated above Texas, and the Apollo 1 experienced an on-ground fire in the space capsule. Despite the missteps, the risk of venturing into space has its rewards. By traveling around the Earth at a rate of 17,500 miles-per-hour, crew members are treated to either a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes out their window. And with a breathtaking view of the Earth in its entirety, that's not your average sunrise.
But how exactly does a space shuttle work, and why are they considered "renewable"? What happens to the crew and rocket once a mission is over? The journey of a space shuttle is long and arduous, but filled with wonder and awe. Check out this playlist to learn more about the amazing science behind launching rockets into space.