Space Shuttle Missions

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These images show the different Space Shuttles of our three missions.

STS-1 was the first orbital flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program. The first orbiter, Columbia, launched on 12 April 1981 and returned on 14 April, 54.5 hours later, having orbited the Earth 37 times. Columbia carried a crew of two – mission commander John W. Young and pilot Robert L. Crippen. It was the first American manned space flight since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. STS-1 was also the only maiden test flight of a new US spacecraft to carry a crew, though it was made possible by atmospheric testing of the orbiter and ground testing of the space shuttle system.

The launch occurred on the 20th anniversary of the first-ever human spaceflight. This was a coincidence rather than a celebration of the anniversary; a technical problem had prevented STS-1 from launching two days earlier, as was planned.

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Crew[edit]PositionAstronautCommanderJohn W. Young
Fifth spaceflightPilotRobert L. Crippen
First spaceflight

Both Young and Crippen were selected as the STS-1 crew in March 1978. Young was the most experienced astronaut in NASA at the time and was also the only member of his astronaut class in service. He had first flown in 1965 as pilot of Gemini 3, the first manned flight of the Gemini program, and would later commandGemini 10 in 1966. After the conclusion of the Gemini program, Young then flew as command module pilot of Apollo 10 in 1969 and walked on the Moon as commander of Apollo 16 in 1972. He later became Chief of the Astronaut Office in 1974. Crippen, who had joined NASA in 1969 after the cancellation of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program, was a rookie and would become the first of his astronaut group to fly in space. Prior to his selection on STS-1, Crippen participated in the Skylab Medical Experiment Altitude Test and also served as a capsule communicator for all three Skylab missions and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Columbia was manifested with EMUs for both Young and Crippen in the event of an emergency spacewalk. If such an event occurred, Crippen would go outside the orbiter, with Young standing by in case Crippen required assistance.[1]

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