In 1981, NASA launched the first space shuttle, a program that lasted 30 years. In its missions, the spacecraft carried people into orbit many times and launched, recovered, and repaired satellites. It also contributed to research and was instrumental in building the International Space Station. This image shows that first orbiter, the Columbia, on its return flight to Earth with its two-man crew on April 14, 1981, headed toward the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. See more on the space shuttle here.
April 14, 2012 3:59 AM PDT
Photo by: NASA
| Caption by: Martin LaMonica
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