1981: First space shuttle launches (CNN)

1981: First space shuttle launches (CNN)

April 12, 1981 - NASA sends its first shuttle into space, launching Columbia from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and beginning a glorious, sometimes tragic, chapter in U.S. space history.People around the globe tuned in to watch the “world’s first reusable spacecraft,” launching like a rocket, orbiting like a spacecraft and landing like a plane. The space shuttle wasn’t just the next step after Apollo, it was a giant leap in the way we understood and used space. For 30 years, a fleet of shuttles served as a celestial shuttle service, leaving behind a space exploration legacy and an untold number of memories for the world.

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