35 years later, is first-ever space shuttle launch a forgotten moment in history?
STS-1 - aka the first orbital launch of the space shuttle - happened 35 years ago today on April 12, 1981. I had to recheck it on the Internet to be sure. How crazy is that?
Space Shuttle Columbia had a crew of two – John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen - and orbited the Earth 37 times in 54 hours before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Here are five things you probably don’t remember about the launch of Space Shuttle Columbia.
1. The launch on April 12, 1981, was exactly 20 years after the first-ever manned spaceflight (Yuri Gagarin's on Vostok 1) but the timing was totally coincidental. Columbia was scheduled to be launched two days prior to April 12, but a technical glitch caused the delay.
2. Rush’s song Countdown (from their 1982 album Signals) was inspired by the launch of Columbia.
3. STS-1 and STS-2 are the only shuttle flights that feature white external fuel tanks. Why were the rest painted orange? They weren’t. They’re naturally orange but were painted white for the first two flights. Turns out not painting them saves about 600 pounds in weight.
4. Though STS-1 was considered a success, a normal of “anomalies” were noted with the flight. Among them: The white paint from the aforementioned fuel tank splattered the window windows when it came off; the heat shield was damaged and tiles went missing; and the landing gear was buckled by hot gas.
5. President Ronald Reagan had planned to visit the space center in Houston during the mission but that was canceled after his assassination attempt two weeks prior to the launch. Here's how CBS covered the launch 35 years ago today: