Columbia Is First Space Shuttle To Launch

SPACE-SHUTTLE/

Commander John Young, left, and pilot Robert Crippen pose with a model of the shuttle Columbia

April 12, 1981 – The space shuttle Columbia is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, becoming the first reusable manned spacecraft to travel into space. Piloted by astronauts John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen, the Columbia undertook a 54-hour space flight of 36 orbits before successfully touching down at California’s Edwards Air Force Base on April 14.

On This Day

October 29, 1998 – Nearly four decades after he became the first American to orbit the Earth, Senator John Hershel Glenn, Jr., is launched into space again as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery. At 77 years of age, Glenn was the oldest human ever to travel in space. During the nine-day mission, he served as part of a NASA study on health problems associated with aging.