Space Shuttle Columbia on Earth, USA, 1980s.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
Rear of Columbia, at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, showing the Space Shuttle Main Engines (sME). The Shuttle has three main engines which are used during the early stages of the launch. The Space Shuttle, the world's first partially reusable launch vehicle, first flew on 12th April 1981 and has been used for all America's manned space misions ever since. Columbia was the first of the Shuttle fleet to fly, and succesfully completed 28 misions before being lost, together with its crew of seven, on re-entry over Texas on 1st February 2003.