President Richard Nixon Examining a Model of the Space Shuttle at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, NASA Space Museum and Orientation Center in Houston, Texas
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Nixon White House Photographs
Richard Nixon was elected the 37th President of the United States (1969-1974) after previously serving as a U.S. Representative and a U.S. Senator from California. After successfully ending American fighting in Vietnam and improving international relations with the U.S.S.R. and China, he became the only President to ever resign the office, as a result of the Watergate scandal. "People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I earned everything I've got."
The Space Shuttle program was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011, administered by NASA and officially beginning in 1972. The Space Shuttle system—composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable external fuel tank— carried up to eight astronauts and up to 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). When its mission was complete, the orbiter would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and lands as a glider. Although the concept had been explored since the late 1960s, the program formally commenced in 1972 and was the focus of NASA's manned operations after the final Apollo and Skylab flights in the mid-1970s. It started with the launch of the first shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, on STS-1. and finished with its last mission, STS-135 flown by Atlantis, in July 2011.