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Crew Patch for STS-1 showing the orbiter in launch with words Columbia, Young, Crippen in the flames of the orbiter


NASA'S First Space Shuttle Mission



mission duration

2 days, 6 hours, 20 minutes, and 53 seconds


April 12, 1981


April 14, 1981
Two astronauts pose for portrait with model shuttle and flags
S79-31775 (29 April 1979) — These two astronauts are 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.

Mission Facts

Mission: First Shuttle Mission/Shuttle Systems Test Flight
Space Shuttle: Columbia
Launch Pad: 39A
Launched: April 12, 1981 at 7:00:03 a.m. EST
Launch Weight: 219,258 pounds
Landing Site: Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Landing: April 14, 1981 at 10:20:57 a.m. PST
Runway: 23
Rollout Distance: 8,993 feet
Rollout Time: 60 seconds
Revolution: 37
Mission Duration: 2 days, 6 hours, 20 minutes, and 53 seconds
Returned to KSC: April 28, 1981
Orbit Altitude: 166 nautical miles
Orbit Inclination: 40.3 degrees
Miles Traveled: 1.074 million

Mission Objectives

Demonstrate safe launch into orbit and safe return of the orbiter and crew. Verify the combined performance of the entire shuttle vehicle – orbiter, solid rocket boosters and external tank.

Payloads included the Developmental Flight Instrumentation (DFI) and the Aerodynamic Coefficient Identifications Package (ACIP) pallet containing equipment for recording temperatures, pressures and acceleration levels at various points on the vehicle.

Mission Highlights

Major systems tested successfully on first flight of Space Transportation System. Orbiter sustained tile damage on launch and from overpressure wave created by the solid rocket boosters. Subsequent modifications to the water sound suppression system eliminated the problem. A total of sixteen tiles were lost and 148 tiles were damaged.

John W. Young


John W. Young logged more than 15,275 hours flying time in props, jets, helicopters, rocket jets, more than 9,200 hours in T-38s, and six space flights of 835 hours.

More About John W. Young
NASA's official portrait of astronaut John Young in 1979
S79-31776 (29 April 1979) – Astronaut John W. Young, STS-1 Commander.
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STS-1: Astronaut Bob Crippen Remembers the Ride of His Life

By Linda HerridgeNASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center Forty years ago, on April 12, 1981, NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia, attached…

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