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Photos: NASA's First Space Shuttle Flight: STS-1

The First Space Shuttle

NASA

The space shuttle Columbia, NASA's first orbiter, is showered with lights in this nocturnal scene at Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., during preparations for the first flight (STS-1) of NASA's new reusable spacecraft system. This photo was taken in March 1981 ahead of Columbia's April 12, 1981 launch.

Soaring Into History

NASA

A remote camera at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A captured this scene as the maiden flight of space shuttle Columbia begins on April 12, 1981. Astronauts John W. Young, STS-1 commander, and Robert L. Crippen, pilot, were aboard Columbia as it begins a 54-hour orbital mission.

STS-1 Mission Solid Rocket Boosters Jettisoned

NASA

On April 12, 1981, astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen launched into space on space shuttle Columbia on the STS-1 mission — NASA's first mission aboard a reusable spacecraft. STS-1 was NASA's first manned mission since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. In this image, the two solid rocket boosters are aglow after being jettisoned.

Who Will Fly Shuttles First?

NASA

On March 22, 1978, NASA held a press conference to announce the first space shuttle crews. The eight men shown here were picked to fly the first four shuttle missions (STS-1 to STS-4) in two-man teams. They are: right to left, astronauts John W. Young, Robert L. Crippen, Joe H. Engle, Richard H. Truly, Fred W. Haise Jr., Jack R. Lousma, Vance D. Brand and C. Gordon Fullerton. Young and Crippen are commander and pilot, respectively, for the first OFT mission. Other crews are comprised of Engle, commander, and Truly, pilot; Haise, commander, and Lousma, pilot; Brand, commander, and Fullerton, pilot.

Meet Columbia

NASA

The space shuttle Columbia riding "piggyback" on NASA 905, a 747 carrier aircraft, is only seconds away from landing on Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle landing facility, ending a 2,400-mile ferry flight from California on March 24, 1979. The T-38 chase plane at left is flown by Donald "Deke" Slayton, manager for the orbital fight test (OFT) program.

Young and Crippen: History's 1st Shuttle Flyers

NASA

These two astronauts were the prime crewmen for the first flight in the Space Transportation System (STS-1) program. Astronauts John W. Young, left, commander, and Robert L. Crippen, pilot, will man the space shuttle orbiter 102 Columbia for the first orbital flight test.

Sunrise Space Shuttle

NASA

An early morning scene at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39, with the space shuttle Columbia in position on Pad 39A at right in March 1981. The shuttle launched into space on April 12, 1981.

STS-1: A Mission's Emblem

NASA

This is the official insignia for the first space shuttle orbital flight test (STS-1). Crew of the 102 Columbia on STS-1 will be astronauts John W. Young, commander, and Robert L. Crippen, pilot. The art work was done by artist Robert McCall.

Liftoff!

NASA

The space shuttle Columbia begins a new era of space transportation when it lifts off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla, on April 12, 1981. The reusable orbiter, its two fuel tanks and two solid rocket boosters (SRB) has just cleared the launch tower.

Boosters Separate

NASA

The twin solid rocket boosters separate from the external tank of NASA's space shuttle Columbia after its April 12, 1981 launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Columbia's STS-1 mission was NASA's first manned mission since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

Columbia's Space Pilot

NASA

Astronaut Robert L. Crippen, pilot for STS-1 takes advantage of zero-gravity to do some rare acrobatics on the middeck of the space shuttle Columbia in Earth orbit during the two-day mission between April 12 and April 14 in 1981.

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