First launch of the Space Shuttle, mision STS-1, 1981.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
The first manned Shuttle, Columbia, crewed by Robert Crippen and John Young, was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 12th April 1981. Columbia orbited 36 times before landing safely back on Earth. The Space Shuttle, the world's first partially reusable launch vehicle, has been used for all America's manned space misions ever since. Columbia succesfully completed 28 misions before being lost, together with its crew of seven, on re-entry over Texas on 1st February 2003.