Columbia Is First Space Shuttle To Launch


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.