STS-1 Fact Sheet

By Cliff Lethbridge

STS-1 — Columbia

1st Space Shuttle Mission

1st Flight of Columbia


John W. Young, Commander

Robert L. Crippen, Pilot

Backup Crew:

Joseph H. Engle, Commander

Richard H. Truly, Pilot

Orbiter Preparations:

Tow to Orbiter Processing Facility – March 25, 1979

Rollover to Vehicle Assembly Building – November 24, 1980

Rollout to Launch Pad 39A – December 29, 1980


April 12, 1981 – 7:00:03 a.m. EST. A planned April 10, 1981 launch was delayed due to a timing skew in Columbia’s general purpose computer system. Backup flight software did not synchronize with the primary avionics software system. The countdown was recycled and resulted in a flawless launch on April 12.


April 14, 1981 – 10:20:57 a.m. PST at Runway 23, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance was 8,993 feet. Rollout time was 60 seconds. Mission duration was 2 days, 6 hours, 20 minutes, 53 seconds. Landing occurred during the 37th orbit.

Mission Summary:

Major systems were tested successfully on the first test flight of a Space Shuttle. However, Columbia experienced tile damage at launch due to an overpressure wave created by the ignition of the twin solid rocket boosters. Subsequent modifications to the launch pad water sound suppression system eliminated this problem in future flights. A total of 16 heat resistant tiles were lost during the flight and 148 were damaged.