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Old 02-04-2006, 01:54 PM
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Space Shuttle Program Begins with Launch of STS-1

Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on April 12, 1981, at 6 a.m. CST (12:00 GMT) to begin the first shuttle mission, STS-1. The primary mission objectives for STS-1 were to accomplish a safe ascent into orbit, check out all the systems on the space shuttle and to return to Earth for a safe landing. All of these objectives were met successfully.

The main payload carried on STS-1 was a Development Flight Instrumentation package, which contained sensors and measuring devices to record orbiter performance and the stresses that occurred during launch, ascent, orbital flight, descent and landing.

Postflight inspection of Columbia revealed that an overpressure wave, which occurred when the solid rocket boosters ignited, resulted in the loss of 16 heat shield tiles and damage to 148 others.
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