What was the first Space Shuttle Launch?
The first space shuttle launch, internationally recognized as a significant historical milestone in human space exploration, was that of the Space Shuttle Columbia, launched by NASA, the United States' space agency. This event took place on April 12, 1981, coincidentally 20 years to the day after Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth. The launch took place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The mission was designated STS-1 (Space Transportation System-1), signifying the initial flight of the Space Shuttle program. The major objectives of the STS-1 mission were to accomplish a safe ascent into orbit, check out all systems on the Space Shuttle (particularly those which could not be tested on the ground), and to safely return to Earth for a horizontal landing on a runway. The STS-1 mission was piloted by two astronauts: John W. Young, the spacecraft commander, and Robert L. Crippen, the pilot. John Young was a veteran astronaut from the Gemini and Apollo programs. Robert Crippen, on the other hand, was a first-time space flyer. The Space Shuttle Columbia orbited the Earth 36 times over a period of 2 days, 6 hours, 20 minutes, 53 seconds, and was then safely and successfully landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The success of STS-1 marked the beginning of the Space Shuttle program that was central to NASA's space exploration efforts from the 1980s up until 2011. For anyone interested in vast fields of space and exploration, missions like these provide great historical context and vibrant details to consider.