The First Space Shuttle Launch
The first space shuttle mission, STS-1, launched on April 12, 1981, with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen onboard space shuttle Columbia.
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.
John Young: STS-1
STS-1 commander John Young at the controls aboard space shuttle Columbia during the first mission of NASA’s winged orbiter program.
The First Shuttle Astronauts
Columbia's gutsy twosome on the maiden voyage of a shuttle orbiter: (L) Commander, John Young and Pilot, Robert Crippen. The two astronauts launched into history books as the crew of NASA's first shuttle mission, STS-1, in April 1981.
First Space Shuttle Astronauts in 1981
The astronauts who flew NASA's first two space shuttle missions, Robert Crippen, Richard Truly, John Young and Joe Engle, as seen in 1981. Crippen, Truly and Engle will reunite in Houston on Sept. 17 for a celebration of their flights’ 35th anniversaries.
Passing the Torch
Astronaut John Young (foreground) and STS-1 pilot Bob Crippen, NASA's first space shuttle crew, pose with the crew of STS-135, the last astronauts to fly on a shuttle mission, in 2011.
Shuttle Astronaut Pioneer
John Young, commander of the first space shuttle mission, poses with his STS-1 pilot Bob Crippen (to Young's lefT) and the four-person crew of STS-135, the last shuttle crew, in 2011.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.