First Space Shuttle Flight
I remember the First Space Shuttle Flight as if it were yesterday! I was just a 13 year old kid at the time and watched in awe as the Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off from Launch Pad 39A on April 12, 1981 at 7:00:03 a.m. EST. It was a spectacle for all to see and a flight for the ages!
This was the very first time that a reusable spacecraft would be launched into orbit so there was a lot of anticipation in the air. The Space Shuttle Program brought enthusiasm back to NASA and the United States NOT seen since the days of the “LEGENDARY” Apollo Program. All eyes were on Columbia on this very special day.
First Space Shuttle Flight – The Greatest Test Flight – STS-1 (Full Mission 03)
You can relive this incredible moment in NASA history by watching the AWESOME documentary video above. STS-1 was the very first orbital spaceflight of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. John Young and Robert Crippen were hand picked to fly the first Shuttle mission in March 1978 and what a flight it was. One for the record books for sure!
The Space Shuttle Columbia launched into history on April 12, 1981 from the Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast and safely landed back on Earth at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California on April 14, 1981. The flight duration was 54.5 hours and the Columbia orbited the Earth 36 times.
The Space Shuttle Program
The Space Shuttle Program also known by it’s official name, the Space Transportation System (STS) was the fourth human spaceflight program carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s Space Shuttle Program flew low Earth orbit (LEO) missions from 1981 to 2011.
There were a total of 133 successful missions with 2 missions ending in catastrophic failure. The first disaster happened on January 28, 1986 which was STS-51-L. The Space Shuttle Columbia exploded just 73 seconds after lift-off killing all 7 astronauts on board including what would’ve been the first civilian in space teacher Christa McAuliffe.
This tragedy shook the confidence of an entire nation and shocked the World as we all looked on the fateful day. NASA immediately started investigating what went wrong. They determined that the O rings which are placed in between the each section of the solid rocket booster failed due to cold weather conditions.
It wasn’t long after the Rogers Commission Report that NASA’s Space Shuttle Program was up and running again. Sadly, there would be another tragedy that would rock the Space Shuttle Program again just 17 years later. The Space Shuttle Columbia was lost during re-entry approximately 16 minutes before its expected landing at Kennedy Space Center, STS-107, February 1, 2003. The 7 person crew was lost.
May these 14 brave souls rest in peace forever. Here’s a quote from President Reagan’s speech on January 28, 1986. I think it’s fitting for all those lost in our never ending quest to reach for the stars!
“The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.”
President Ronald Reagan, February 1, 1986
Names Of Space Shuttles
There were a total of six Space Shuttles but five actually flew in space. The first Space Shuttle was the Enterprise which was named after the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) (Star Trek starship) and flew only one time on August 12, 1977. She was launched from the top of a specially modified Boeing 747. This was the “OFFICIAL” first flight and it went flawlessly as she glided back to Earth for a safe landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The Names Of Space Shuttles that actually flew in space are the Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. These Space Shuttle’s were only launched from Kennedy Space Center and landed at Edwards Air Force Base during the early days of the Space Shuttle Program. They would eventually land at Kennedy Space Center depending on weather conditions at the space center.
The Space Shuttle Program flew from 1981 thru 2011 and cost an estimated $196 billion (2011). The Space Shuttle Fleet flew way longer than they were designed to fly. As the years went on the cost to maintain the Space Shuttle Fleet was astronomical and a determining factor when it came time to finally retire the Space Shuttle Program.
Even though there were two catastrophic missions that cost the lives of 14 brave souls. The Space Shuttle Program was a HUGE technological success. Up until the Challenger disaster in 1986. People around the World considered space flight routine. Unfortunately, space travel is extremely dangerous as we were all reminded of on that fateful day.
Space Shuttle Flight Controls
The Space Shuttle Flight Controls are still the most complicated system ever built by man. In fact, the Space Shuttle could not be flown without the help of it’s on board computer system which was responsible for monitoring all flight system and flew the Space Shuttle back to Earth during re-entry through the atmosphere.
The pilot in command would take control on final approach and gently land the Space Shuttle on the runway. The Space Shuttle is definitely man’s greatest accomplishment! Next to landing a man on the Moon of course but the Space Shuttle is by far the most complicated piece on machinery ever created.
As you can see in the Space Shuttle’s Cockpit above. There are hundreds of switches and knobs along with digital displays that make flying the Space Shuttle an absolute dream for Astronauts. Flying the Space Shuttle is nothing like flying an airplane. It’s NOT even close!
Astronauts spend countless hours inside flight simulators preparing for every kind of disaster conceivable and whatever else NASA can conjure up. As the Space Shuttle Program matured over the decades so did technology. The first all glass cockpit was fitted in the Space Shuttle Atlantis which was a huge leap in technology at the time.
All the magic happens inside the cockpit of the Space Shuttle and during re-entry and Landing the Commander begins the de-orbit burn by firing the orbiter’s engines to slow its speed and take it out of orbit. As soon as the Space Shuttle is about 4 minutes from touchdown the Commander will take over for the final approach.
NASA Space Shuttle’s Final Voyage of Atlantis – STS-135 (Full Final Mission)
Everything comes to an end sometime and that’s exactly what happened when the Space Shuttle Atlantic blasted off for the final time on July 8, 2011. Unfortunately, there was NOT a replacement vehicle ready and U.S. Astronauts would have to rely on Russia for a ride to the International Space Station and still do to this very day.
The Orion spacecraft was slated to replace the aging Space Shuttle Program but was abruptly cancelled for political reasons. The good news is that Orion is back in business and has already been test flown and has performed flawlessly so far and scheduled for man flight in the very near future.
As a tribute to the Space Shuttle Program. Watch the documentary above and relive every moment of the Space Shuttle Atlantis’s final flight into the history books as she closes another chapter in human space flight. It was a sad day indeed but a story that will not end with the final flight of the Space Shuttle.
Space Shuttle Flight Simulator
Even though the Space Shuttle is part of history. She still flies in all her glory inside Virtual Pilot 3D! “The World’s MOST REALISTIC Flight Simulator!” Climb aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis and go where few have gone before! Experience the ULTIMATE flight by clicking on the orange button below NOW!
This Space Shuttle Flight Simulator is nothing like you’ve ever flown before! You will know what it’s like to be a real-life Astronaut! This is almost as good as the real thing. ALMOST! This is the BEST space simulation game you can get for a home PC. There has never been anything like it!
Get ready for a KICK-ASS ride pilot! If you have any comments or questions about the Space Shuttle. Please leave them below and I’ll answer your questions to the best of my knowledge. Thank you for stopping by today and I hope to see you on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis!
If you’re ready for YOUR First Space Shuttle Flight NOW! Click on the button below and I’ll see you on the next page. You are NOT going to believe the view from the Space Shuttle. The stunning 4K HD graphics will make you feel as if you’re really in orbit.
I’ll see you on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis pilot!