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First Glimpse of the Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle Enterprise piggyback aboard a 747 (Getty Images)

It took 10 billion dollars and 10 years to develop, but the first space shuttle made its first public debut in a ceremony in California on this date in 1976. The following year the Enterprise, made its first flight, not from Kennedy Space Center and not into space. It was launched from the top of a 747 and then glided back to Edwards Air Force Base.

The first space shuttle flight came in 1981, with the launching of Columbia.

There were incredible victories along the way, but some major tragedies too. The explosion of Challenger 74 seconds after takeoff in 1986 claimed the lives of all seven astronauts on board.

And another tragedy in 2003, when Columbia, on its 28th mission, broke apart during re-entry into the atmosphere, again with the loss of all seven astronauts aboard.

The shuttle program came to an end last year and there’s word NASA is planning a new rocket that’ll be even more powerful than the Saturn Five that took astronauts to the moon. The first of those new rockets could be ready by 2015 with the first manned flights two years later.

 

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