Space Shuttle (NASA)
NASA's Space Shuttle, officially called the Space Transportation System (STS), is the spacecraft currently used by the United States government for its human spaceflight missions. At launch, it consists of a rust-colored external tank (ET), two white, slender Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs), and the orbiter, a winged spaceplane which is the space shuttle in the narrow sense.
The orbiter carries astronauts and payload such as satellites or space station parts into low earth orbit, into the Earth's upper atmosphere or thermosphere. Usually, five to seven crew members ride in the orbiter. The payload capacity is 22,700 kg (50,000 lb). When the orbiter's mission is complete it fires its Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) thrusters to drop out of orbit and re-enters the lower atmosphere. During the descent and landing, the shuttle orbiter acts as a glider, and makes a completely unpowered ("dead stick") landing.
Buran Spacecraft (Soviet)
The Buran spacecraft (Russian: "Snowstorm" or "Blizzard"), GRAU index 11F35 K1, was the only fully completed and operational space shuttle vehicle from the Soviet Buran program. With a design that borrowed heavily from the American Space Shuttle, the Buran completed one unmanned spaceflight in 1988 before cancellation of the Soviet shuttle program in 1993. The Buran was subsequently destroyed by a hangar collapse in 2002.
Like its American counterpart, the Buran, when in transit from its landing sites back to the launch complex, was transported on the back of a large jet aeroplane. It was piggy-backed on the Antonov An-225 Mriya aircraft, which was designed for this task and remains the largest aircraft in the world.
A space station is an artificial structure designed for humans to live in outer space. So far only low earth orbit (LEO) stations are implemented, also known as orbital stations. A space station is distinguished from other manned spacecraft by its lack of major propulsion or landing facilities — instead, other vehicles are used as transport to and from the station. Space stations are designed for medium-term living in orbit, for periods of weeks, months, or even years. The only space station currently in use is the International Space Station. Previous ones are the Almaz, Salyut series, Skylab and Mir
Space stations are currently (as of 2007) used to study the effects of long-term space flight on the human body as well as to provide platforms for greater number and length of scientific studies than available on other space vehicles. Since the ill-fated flight of Soyuz 11 to Salyut 1, all manned spaceflight duration records have been set aboard space stations. The duration record for a single spaceflight is 437.7 days, set by Valeriy Polyakov aboard Mir from 1994 to 1995. As of 2008, three astronauts have completed single missions of over a year, all aboard Mir.
See also: Space Shuttle (NASA),
Space Shuttle Buran (Soviet),
Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)