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Wednesday, April 11th 2007

Anniversary of the Space Shuttle

Tomorrow is the 26th anniversary of the space shuttle. On April 12, 1981 – more than five years since the last American was in space – the shuttle Columbia took off as mission STS-1.

Footage Of The First Manned Shuttle Mission’s Lift Off

It carried only a commander and pilot – John Young and Robert Crippen – and lasted less than three days.

The First Shuttle Mission Patch

Columbia was the first shuttle. From STS-1 she flew for another twenty-two years almost. And then sadly,

The Shuttle Which Had Brought Young & Crippen Back Safely…Failed

Despite the dangers and the criticisms of costs versus benefits, I love the marvel of manned space flight. There is a nobility to it. It is a testament to all human achievement. To how far we have come. And certainly a window into how far we can go.

The shuttle program will be retired in 2010. The manned flight activity will be taken up eventually by Orion in the hope of achieving the goals set out in the Vision for Space Exploration.

A moment on this anniversary to all those who have risked, and especially those who have given, themselves in order to explore; to push the boundaries of human capability and knowledge, in large part for no other reasons than to prove we are able.

An oversight. No wonder NASA launched Columbia on April 12th. This is also the anniversary of man’s first footsteps into space – on April 12, 1961 (exactly 20 years before the Columbia launch) Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space on Vostok 1.