The Space Shuttle had never launched with or without a crew when astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen climbed aboard Columbia on 12 April 1981. Their bold, two-day test flight made history and ushered in NASA's 30-year shuttle era.
The Planetary Society is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first Space Shuttle launch with exclusive resources, interviews, and personal stories. Bookmark this page at planetary.org/shuttle40.
Learn About the Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was the world’s first reusable
space vehicle. More
than 800 astronauts rode on it from 1981 to 2011, launching numerous science missions and
building the International Space Station.
The First Shuttle Pilot
Bob Crippen piloted Columbia to orbit and back during its two-day test flight in 1981. Crippen describes the experience in an exclusive interview for our Planetary Radio podcast.
Space Shuttle Astronaut Bob Crippen Describes Columbia's First Flight: "A Moment of Pure Excitement"
NASA astronaut Bob Crippen joins Mat Kaplan on Planetary Radio to look back at the Space Shuttle's first flight.
How Much Did the Shuttle Cost?
Adjusted for inflation to 2020 dollars, NASA spent approximately $49 billion to develop and launch the first space shuttle.Full Story
Space Shuttle Pictures
Browse beautiful images of the shuttle in our Space Image Library.
Space Shuttle Stories
For the 40th anniversary of the first flight of the Space Shuttle, The Planetary Society asked its members for their thoughts and memories of this spacecraft. Below is a sampling of those stories submitted by individuals from around the world.