Pilot Robert Crippen does a cannonball on Space
Shuttle Columbia's middeck.
Shuttle Program Begins with Launch of STS-1
Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off from Kennedy Space Center,
Fla., on April 12, 1981, at 6 a.m. CST (12:00 GMT) to begin
the first shuttle mission, STS-1. The primary mission objectives
for STS-1 were to accomplish a safe ascent into orbit, check
out all the systems on the space shuttle and to return to
Earth for a safe landing. All of these objectives were met
The main payload
carried on STS-1 was a Development Flight Instrumentation
package, which contained sensors and measuring devices to
record orbiter performance and the stresses that occurred
during launch, ascent, orbital flight, descent and landing.
of Columbia revealed that an overpressure wave, which occurred
when the solid rocket boosters ignited, resulted in the loss
of 16 heat shield tiles and damage to 148 others.
here for the STS-1 press
and its crew landed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on
April 14, 1981, at 12:20 p.m. CST (18:20 GMT).